Premier John Horgan listens as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry describes B.C.’s fall and winter pandemic plan, Sept. 9, 2020. (B.C. government)

Dr. Bonnie Henry wasn’t asked about early B.C. election

B.C. VOTES 2020: highlights from day one

B.C. Premier John Horgan has deferred to provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on every step of the province’s response to COVID-19, except a surprise election set for Oct. 24.

“The election of course was not an issue I needed to raise with her,” Horgan told reporters as he announced the unscheduled vote Sept. 21. “She’s been working with Elections B.C. to make sure that should there be an election it will be as safe as possible.”

The election call also takes Health Minister Adrian Dix off the coronavirus pandemic, relieved of his day-to-day government responsibilities working side by side with Henry to campaign for his re-election. Provincial governments go into “caretaker mode” during elections, with the public service managing existing programs only.

Even with B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rates hitting new highs with additional testing, Horgan said an election can be held safely.

“There will be a long period of advance voting, so there won’t be a big crush on election day,” Horgan said. “Election day will be on a Saturday for the first time in a long long time, as well of course as mail-in ballots.”

Carole James heads ‘caretaker’ B.C. government

Finance Minister Carole James is the only NDP cabinet minister to keep working during the B.C. election campaign.

James is among 15 MLAs retiring at the end of their current term, which was scheduled to end in October 2021. James announced in March that she has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and would not run again in Victoria-Beacon Hill.

“The tradition is to have a stay-behind minister to work with the public service,” Premier John Horgan said. “That minister will be the deputy premier and finance minister, Carole James. And I am sure that she will administer the government of B.C. to meet the needs of B.C.ers that arise, and I’m sure she will do us all proud.”

The election comes as B.C. schools deal with positive COVID-19 tests, daily cases increase in the general population and B.C.’s health ministry approaches the seasonal influenza season with additional vaccine and testing capacity in the works for this fall and winter.

COVID-19 liquor, music rules extended with fines

In his last official act before heading into a B.C. election, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth announced tighter rules for liquor sales at restaurants and private events.

Premier John Horgan said the latest COVID-19 enforcement measures are aimed at younger people who have been careless and increased community infection.

Among the changes, no events can be held in banquet halls, “nightclubs must cease operating as nightclubs,” and liquor must not be consumed on the premises by owners, operators or staff after 11 p.m., Farnworth’s ministry announced Sunday, Sept. 20. Liquor sales for on-site consumption must stop by 10 p.m. at private events as well as licensed restaurants, and private events such as wedding receptions have the same rules as hotels.

Fines remain the same, $2,000 for owners, operators and organizers who disobey provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry’s public health orders, and $200 fines for individuals who don’t cooperate with restrictions at events.

“The challenge we have is that people are not abiding by the health orders that are already in place,” Premier John Horgan said as he was calling an election for Oct. 24. “That’s had an impact on night clubs, that’s had an impact on activities largely of younger British Columbians, and we’ve tried hard to get their attention, and we’ll continue to do that, as will Dr. Henry.”

RELATED: Citing need for stability, Horgan calls snap election

RELATED: B.C.’s per-capita COVID-19 cases highest in Canada


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC politicsBC Votes 2020Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Jordan Jay Ward, 20, is wanted Canada-wide for manslaughter. (Calgary police photo)
UPDATE: ‘Suspicious’ man seen in Parksville woods not manslaughter suspect

Hikers say he resembled Jordan Jay Ward, wanted Canada-wide

From left: BC NDP candidate Adam Walker; BC Liberal Party candidate Michelle Stilwell. (Submitted/file)
B.C. VOTES 2020: Parksville-Qualicum candidates wait for mail-in ballot count

NDP’s Adam Walker has lead over B.C. Liberal Party’s Michelle Stilwell

An illustration was given to the Parksville’s Church of the Ascension by a person, in appreciation for allowing use of its shower facility. (Mike Favero/Submitted photo)
Parksville church makes showers available to the homeless

Pastor receives special illustration from one appreciative person

Dr. Richard Stanwick, Island Health chief medical health officer, immunizes Victoria Schmid, Island Health’s vice-president of pandemic planning. (Submitted photo)
Island Health advising people to get a flu shot

People looking to get vaccinated should book an appointment, says Island Health

FILE – Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. shatters COVID-19 records with 817 weekend cases; masks now expected indoors

Three people have died over the past three reporting periods

RCMP have released more details regarding what led up to an arrest caught on video in Williams Lake Sunday, Oct. 26. (Facebook video screenshot)
Review launched after ‘high-risk, multi-jurisdictional’ chase, arrest in Williams Lake

RCMP launching a full review and code of conduct investigation

Freighter drags anchor towards Boulder Point Oct. 22. It came within 730 metres of the shore, according to maps from the Port of Nanaimo. (Photo submitted)
MacGregor introduces bill to address freighter anchorages along the South Coast

Concerns about the environment, noise, pollution and safety abundant

(Pxfuel)
B.C. limits events in private homes to household, plus ‘safe six’ amid COVID-19 surge

Henry issued a public health order limiting private gatherings to one household, plus a group of ‘safe six’ only

B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson speaks during a drive-in car rally campaign stop at a tour bus operator, in Delta, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Andrew Wilkinson stepping down as B.C. Liberal leader

Will stay on until the next party leader is chosen

Campbell River's new hospital, July 2018
Nurse diverts opiates and falsifies records at Campbell River Hospital

Nurse facing disciplinary action for moving opiates out of the hospital

VicPD and B.C. Conservation Officer Service teamed up to free two bucks who were entangled in a fishing net and dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them. (VicPD)
VIDEO: Police, B.C. Conservation help two bucks caught in one fishing net

Bucks were also dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them

A heavy police presence was spotted in Lumby, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. (Facebook)
Police situation leads to ‘hold and secure’ at North Okanagan school

Police call for social media blackout in ongoing incident

Most Read