B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. Horgan says the election promise to provide COVID-19 recovery benefit dollars to British Columbia families and individuals will be the focus of Monday’s return to the legislature for a brief session. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. Horgan says the election promise to provide COVID-19 recovery benefit dollars to British Columbia families and individuals will be the focus of Monday’s return to the legislature for a brief session. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Horgan says COVID-19 relief promise top priority of short B.C. legislature session

NDP landed a decisive victory in the Oct. 24 provincial election, securing 57 of the legislature’s 87 seats

Premier John Horgan says his newly re-elected government will focus on ensuring families and individuals start receiving COVID-19 recovery benefits when the legislature resumes for a shortened session on Monday.

Horgan said he expects the session, the first since his New Democrats were re-elected with a majority mandate, to sit for just two weeks before adjourning for the holidays.

During that time, politicians are expected to pass legislation that would grant the government the authority to fulfil a campaign promise and begin delivering pandemic relief funds.

The proposed legislation earmarks one-time, tax-free payments of $1,000 for eligible families and $500 for qualifying individuals.

The brief legislative session is set to begin with a Monday throne speech mapping out the government’s priorities.

But Horgan says getting financial aid into the hands of the province’s residents must be his administration’s most pressing goal.

“The priority is getting the supply bill passed so we can flow dollars to families and individuals,” Horgan said at a recent news conference. “We don’t have any anticipated additional legislation.”

Horgan said the money would ideally reach residents before Christmas, but acknowledged such a timeline may be overly ambitious.

The relief funds, he said, will help both the province’s residents and the regional economy as B.C. grapples with the effects of the global pandemic.

“It’s putting dollars into peoples pockets so they can continue to get through the most challenging time British Columbians have ever known,” Horgan said. “We believe it’s good economics. We campaigned on it.”

The NDP landed a decisive victory in the Oct. 24 provincial election, securing 57 of the legislature’s 87 seats.

ALSO READ: National Student Loan Service Centre plagued by delays as requests for help soar

The Opposition Liberals, who lost considerable ground during the election and saw Andrew Wilkinson step down as leader after the party’s poor showing, are questioning the need to reconvene the legislature to pass a single bill. The move, they said, comes as the province faces a record budget deficit.

“I think British Columbians would expect that if we are going to open the legislature, bring MLAs from across the province with limited numbers, and with COVID-19 protocols that there should be a substantive agenda,” said interim Liberal Leader Shirley Bond.

B.C. politicians participated in a hybrid, summer session before the election that saw just 20 members attend debates and question periods at the legislature while others participated remotely.

The government should use the new session to provide an update of the province’s finances, Bond said.

Last September, the government’s first quarterly report forecast a deficit of about $13 billion, but there has been no word on the timing of the next financial report, she said.

“Instead, what we got was the finance minister musing about whether or not she might actually push her budget presentation off until later in the year,” said Bond.

B.C. budgets have traditionally been tabled on the third Tuesday of February. But the legislature changed a law last summer to allow a budget to be tabled later when there is a fall election.

Bond said the Liberals plan to hold the NDP to their election promises to cap the fees food delivery companies charge to restaurants for takeout orders and they may also introduce their own private members bills.

Horgan said the NDP will nominate Burnaby New Democrat Raj Chouhan to serve as the Speaker of the legislature.

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

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

Just Posted

Oceanside RCMP Cpl. Jesse Foreman visits the PQB News/VI Free Daily studios. (Peter McCully photo)
PQBeat: Interview with Oceanside RCMP operational support NCO Cpl. Jesse Foreman

Podcast: Talk includes policing, commercial fishing, COVID-19, Tour de Rock and more

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

(File photo)
Case of COVID-19 confirmed in School District 69 (Qualicum)

Individual was at PASS/Woodwinds, with a last date of attendance of Jan. 22

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
2nd COVID vaccine doses on hold as B.C. delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

Tahsis mayor Martin Davis stands with an old-growth tree in McKelvie Creek Valley. The village of Tahsis signed a Letter of Understanding with forestry company Western Forest Products to establish McKelvie watershed as a protected area. Photo courtesy, TJ Watt.
Landmark deal expected to protect Tahsis watershed from logging

Tahsis and WFP agree on letter of understanding to preserve McKelvie Creek Valley within TFL 19

FILE – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers his opening remarks at a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Tuesday, January 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine CEO ‘very, very clear’ that Canada’s contracts will be honoured: Trudeau

Trudeau says he spoke to Moderna CEO on the morning of Jan. 26

Ben Tyler was working on a Nicola area ranch when he disappeared. File photo
Ben Tyler was working on a Nicola area ranch when he disappeared. File photo
2 years after his riderless horse was found, police believe Merritt cowboy was killed

Two years after he went missing, Ben Tyner’s family makes video plea for information

A ground worker wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 unloads lobsters from a WestJet Airlines flight at Vancouver International Airport, in Richmond, B.C., on Thursday, January 21, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Trudeau teases stricter travel measures; Canadians flying to U.S. now need COVID test

Prime minister says measures need to not hurt imports and essential trade

Seats in the waiting area of domestic departures lounge of Calgary International Airport are seen with caution tape on them on June 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
3-in-4 Canadians in favour of banning interprovincial travel: Poll

According to Research Co., 80 per cent of Canadians would like to see restrictions imposed

The shirts sell for $45, with 30 per cent of proceeds from each sale going to Battered Women’s Support Services in Vancouver. (Madame Premier/Sarah Elder-Chamanara)
Canadian company launches ‘hysterical’ T-Shirt to combat health officials’ use of word

A partnership with Tamara Taggart will see women broadcast the word on a T-shirt or tote bag

ICBC has seen savings on crash and injury claims in the COVID-19 pandemic, with traffic on B.C. roads reduced. (Penticton Western News)
ICBC opens online calculator for rate savings starting in May

Bypassing courts expected to save 20% on average

McDonald’s on Nicol Street in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file photo)
McDonald’s in Nanaimo reports COVID-19 case

Employee at Nicol Street location last worked Jan. 17

Most Read