B.C. Legislature set to return on Monday
The B.C. Legislature will return on Monday, June 22 after a four-month break.
While all 87 Members of the Legislative Assembly will participate, most will not attend in person.
House leaders of the three political parties, along with Speaker Darryl Plecas and legislature staff, worked collaboratively to develop a plan for the upcoming session.
“We will have up to 25 members participating in the house and that includes the speaker and up to 62 participating on zoom,” said clerk of the legislature Kate Ryan-Lloyd. “Members will have equal participation if they are here or if they are participating by technology.”
According to Government House Leader Mike Farnworth, each caucus will decide who they send in person.
The summer session is scheduled to run from June 22 until August 12, with two constituency break weeks throughout. Mondays and Tuesdays will see full-day sittings, and Wednesdays will see only an afternoon sitting to accommodate for the government’s weekly Cabinet meeting in the morning. Question Period will continue as normal – 30 minutes on Monday and Wednesday afternoons and Tuesday and Thursday mornings.
For more on the upcoming session, including the government’s priorities and what to expect in terms of legislation, look out for Earnscliffe’s detailed note in your inbox on Monday.
Allegations of racist games in B.C. emergency rooms being investigated
The province announced Friday they are investigating allegations of racism by staff in B.C.’s healthcare system, particularly in emergency rooms and towards Indigenous patients.
Minister Dix told reporters he was made aware of these “abhorrent” allegations on Thursday evening.
“The allegation is that a game was being played to investigate the blood alcohol level of patients in the emergency rooms, in particular with Indigenous people and perhaps others. And if true, it is intolerable and racist and of course (has) affected profoundly patient care,” Minister Dix told reporters at a news conference Friday morning.
Minister Dix declined to say where the alleged incidents took place or when, saying no one has been disciplined and the allegations have not been proven.
Minister Dix has ordered an official investigation into the allegations, which is to be led by former justice and Representative for Children and Youth Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond.
The Métis Nation BC and the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres issued a
of their own, saying this racist “game” has occurred many times in the B.C. healthcare system, calling on the government to begin a public inquiry into Indigenous-specific racism in the province's health care system.
Premier Horgan also issued a
Friday afternoon, saying he is “outraged by reports of ugly, anti-Indigenous, racist behaviour at multiple health-care facilities in B.C. This behaviour degrades the standards and provisions of health care in our province. It cannot stand. There is no excuse. There is no explaining this away.”
Temporary rental supplement extended until August 31, 2020
The province has announced they will be extending the Temporary Rental Supplement until the end of August 2020. The program had been set to expire at the end of this month.
Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Selina Robinson told reporters that anyone who has applied for rental relief will continue to be eligible without having to reapply. New applications will also be accepted until the end of August.
BC Housing, the group responsible for administering the program, says they have received more than 90,000 applications since the supplement began on April 9.
The province also announced an extension of the temporary ban on rent increases and evictions for non-payment. However, evictions will soon be allowed again for other reasons. Starting July 1, landlords will be able to serve new notices of eviction for reasons including landlord/purchaser use and for cause.
Province seeks more public input on economic recovery plans, 6-week online consultation launched
On Wednesday, Premier Horgan and Minister of Finance Carole James announced a new six-week public consultation to gather input "on the province’s path to recovery”.
This new consultation is geared towards members of the general public, to supplement ongoing outreach sessions with business, industry, labour, and other key stakeholder groups. Premier Horgan told reporters that while these sessions – of which there have been more than 1,500 – have provided “invaluable ideas,” they want more feedback from residents before they begin spending the $1.5 billion earmarked for economic recovery.
These consultations include an
and a series of virtual town hall
– the first of which will take place on June 25. Details on this event are below.
Also released Wednesday was a discussion paper –
Building BC’s Recovery, Together
– which outlines, among other things, the province’s priorities for a post-COVID British Columbia.
Notable priorities include strengthening the health care system; “creating and restoring good-paying and sustainable jobs”; “taking advantage of BC’s abundant clean energy,” and building critical infrastructure to support local communities.
The opposition BC Liberals were quick to criticize Premier Horgan for the new consultation, calling it a disappointing stall tactic.
“People are still out of work, businesses are facing bankruptcy, the public health threat from COVID-19 isn’t over, and what does the NDP do? They launch an online survey,” said BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson. “This shows the NDP don’t have any plan at all.”
“British Columbians assumed that for the past four months the NDP was working hard behind the scenes on an economic recovery plan, but today we found out that their only plan isn’t actually a plan at all,” added Finance Critics Shirley Bond and Stephanie Cadieux. “The NDP have had plenty of time to listen and now should have been the time for decisive action and a specific plan. Instead, we get an announcement about the launch of a survey and needing more time to consult, delaying the help that people need now.”
BC Green Party leadership race back on; final vote scheduled for mid-September
The two candidates vying for the leadership of the BC Green Party are back on the campaign trail as of this week. The leadership race, which was suspended in March due to COVID-19, officially restarted on Monday, June 15.
There are still only two candidates officially in the race: current MLA (Cowichan Valley) Sonia Furstenau, and Kim Darwin, a former candidate for the BC Greens in the riding of Powell River-Sunshine Coast.
Voting for the next leader will take place between September 5 and 13, with the results of the contest announced on September 14. Interested candidates who have not yet entered the race have until July 27 to submit an application.