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

Gord John stands during question period in Ottawa in Sept. 2020. (PHOTO COURTESY CHRISTIAN DIOTTE, HOUSE OF COMMONS PHOTO SERVICES)
2020: A Year in Review with Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns

NDP MP wants to ‘build back better’ in 2021

Education advisor Tom McEvay congratulates two Alberni Valley Bulldogs on their high academic achievements for the 2015-16 season: Quinn Syrydiuk, left, for college and Cayden Kraus for high school. (KAICEE TROTT PHOTO)
BCHL: Port Alberni’s Tom McEvay joins Coquitlam Express as education advisor

McEvay now schools players for three teams, including Alberni and Nanaimo

Gary Bender from Bailey Electric secures two art banners on lampposts at Argyle Street and Sixth Avenue in May 2020. Despite a delay due to COVID-19 measures, the Rotary Club of Port Alberni-Arrowsmith was able to collect and put up half of the art banners it usually does in the Rotary Arts District. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Rotary Arts District banner program switches to ‘paint at home’ for 2021

Arrowsmith Rotary Club needs 80 registrations to go ahead this year

(NEWS FILE PHOTO)
BUDGET 2021: City of Port Alberni looks at tax increase of 3.95 percent

City of Port Alberni held its first budget meeting of the year

Emma Nunn from Alberni Valley Rescue Squad waits at the summit of Mount Arrowsmith for the rest of the AVRS rope rescue team on Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021. (PHOTO COURTESY DAVE POULSEN, AVRS)
UPDATE: Injured hikers among three rescued in the dark from Mount Arrowsmith

‘It was a very bad, very precarious spot to be able to locate them’

Syringe is prepared with one of B.C.’s first vials of Pfizer vaccine to prevent COVID-19, Victoria, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 caseload stays steady with 465 more Tuesday

No new outbreaks in health care facilities, 12 more deaths

Stand up paddleboarder Christie Jamieson is humbled to her knees as a pod of transient orcas put on a dramatic show on Jan. 19 in the Ucluelet Harbour. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Updated: Ucluelet paddle boarder surrounded by pod of orcas

“My whole body is still shaking. I don’t even know what to do with this energy.”

Inmates at Metchosin’s William Head Institution are being given COVID-19 vaccines as part of the first phase. Around 600 inmates will be vaccinated in the coming days. (Black Press Media file photo)
William Head prison inmates in receive first doses of COVID vaccine

Priority set for older inmates and those with underlying medical conditions

New Westminster TV production designer, Rick Whitfield, has designed an office in a box for British Columbians in need of a private workspace. (BC Box Office photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. man designs ‘box office’ solution for those working from home

‘A professionally designed workspace on your property, away from the distractions of home’

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

Chilliwack ER doctor Marc Greidanus is featured in a video, published Jan. 18, 2021, where he demonstrates and describes effectiveness of various styles of masks. (Youtube)
VIDEO: Emergency room doctor runs through pros and cons of various masks

‘We’ve been asked to wear a mask and it’s not that hard,’ Greidanus says.

(Pixabay photo)
VIDEO: Tip to Metro Vancouver transit police helps woman 4,000 km away in Ohio

Sgt. Clint Hampton says transit police were alerted to a YouTube video of the woman in mental distress

A woman types on her laptop in Miami in a Monday, Dec. 12, 2016, photo illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Wilfredo Lee
British Columbia government lax on cybersecurity practices, auditor reports

The audit did not highlight a specific threat, but it found breaches in cybersecurity are increasing globally

A water taxi at Victoria’s Fisherman’s Wharf. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man arrested after stolen water taxi raced up Victoria’s Gorge Waterway

Man is facing recommended charges of theft over $5,000 after leading police on marine chase

Most Read