The B.C. government will release its roadmap for economic recovery next week, Premier John Horgan says.
Speaking after a cabinet meeting April 29, Horgan said the government is proceeding with a “slow, methodical” process to reopen the economy and education system. Full operation of public schools isn’t going to happen until next fall, but additional students are being added to classroom instruction this spring, he said.
Horgan described B.C. as “the envy of the country” in his series of conference calls with premiers and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He noted that Quebec is about to restart its construction industry in mid-May, while B.C. never shut construction sites down.
“Unlike other provinces we resisted the call for a full lockdown of our economy,” Horgan said. He cited restaurants as another example of a phased approach, where they were not ordered closed, just given restrictions to work with.
“It’s not just going to be a flick of a switch,” Horgan said. “The consuming public has to be comfortable and confident that they can go into that restaurant safely.”
Another example of the B.C. approach is tree planting, which is getting underway with restrictions on camps and transportation for B.C.’s largest-ever planting season. B.C. employs about 5,000 seasonal planters, many from out of province, and this year’s target is more than 300 million seedlings, focused on areas impacted by the record 2017 and 2018 forest fire seasons.
B.C.’s state of emergency has been extended for another two-week period as required by provincial law. It gives the province additional powers to protect supply systems and transportation, and was used through the 2017 and 2018 B.C. wildfire seasons.
The COVID-19 state of emergency was declared March 18 by Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth, the same day bars and night clubs were ordered to shut down. Public health orders, which regulate business and personal contact in the pandemic, are at the discretion of provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.