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

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 80+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

The school is very proud of these students (pictured, left to right): Halim Demir (holding Grace Valdez’ gold certificate); Lauren McIlwain, Shayleen Mack, Jaymen Schieck, Kyle Doiron, and Finn Carlson (photo submitted)
SAMS students excel in international competition

The SAMS team swept their category this year; all six participants received awards

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

The avalanche came down on the highway sometime Sunday evening (Feb. 21) (Dawson photo)
Road to Bella Coola wharf reopens after large avalanche

The road was closed after a large avalanche covered a significant portion of the highway

Jenni Mueller lives near the wharf on the other side of the avalanche. She took this photo and thinks the avalanche happened around 8 p.m. last night (February 21). (Jenni Mueller photo)
Avalanche closes road to wharf at Bella Coola

A day and night of heavy rain resulted in avalanches across the region

Langley resident Carrie MacKay shared a video showing how stairs are a challenge after spending weeks in hospital battling COVID-19 (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Stairs a challenge for B.C. woman who chronicled COVID-19 battle

‘I can now walk for six (to) 10 minutes a day’

Churches, including Langley’s Riverside Calvary Church, are challenging the regulations barring them from holding in-person worship services during COVID-19. (Langley Advance Times file)
Det. Sgt. Jim Callender. (Hamilton Police Service screenshot)
B.C. man dead, woman seriously injured after shooting in Hamilton, Ont.

The man was in the process of moving to the greater Toronto area, police say

(Black Press file photo)
Child in critical condition, homicide investigators probe incident near Agassiz

The child was transported to hospital but is not expected to survive

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Sewage plant in Lower Mainland, operated by Metro Vancouver. (Metro Vancouver screenshot)
‘Poop tracker’ launches as researchers test Lower Mainland sewage water for COVID-19

‘Studying the virus in wastewater allows researchers to look at an entire population…’

(Pxhere)
Compensation fund opens for B.C. students negatively affected by incorrect exam marks

Marks for 2019 provincial exams were incorrectly tabulated

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Time to check the mail: Every household to receive a Canada Post postcard this spring

Postcard can be mailed for free to any address in Canada

Most Read