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

A health-care worker prepares to swab a man at a walk-in COVID-19 test clinic in Montreal North, Sunday, May 10, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes)
Interior Health records 21 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend

Thirty-six cases remain active; two people are in the hospital, one of whom is in intensive care

Columnist Jim Hilton discusses politics in this installment of <em>Forest Ink.</em> (Wahkash Contracting Ltd. photo)
FOREST INK: Support for the productive sectors of society

I was again reminded of people who do this for a living rather than just a retirement hobby

Williams Lake city crews tried out the new lake weed harvester from Scout Island Monday, Oct. 19. It cannot be used to harvest weeds until the City receives a permit from the Ministry of Environment. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Lake weed harvester ready for use in Williams Lake

Freshly painted green and yellow, the equipment cannot harvest weeds until the City gets a permit

Mount Timothy Ski Resort. (Angie Mindus photo)
CRD encourages outdoor recreation groups to apply for provincial funding

Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program guidelines provide Oct. 2020

Erin Getson, left, and Kathy Shetler were out putting up posters Thursday for the upcoming Maranatha Christian School Outdoor Market taking place Saturday, Oct. 24 at 1278 Lakeview Crescent. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Maranatha Christian School outdoor market Oct. 24 in Williams Lake

The market will have approximately 30 vendors, admission is free

With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Green leader Sonia Furstenau promises to convert BC Ferries back into Crown corporation

Promise comes Monday afternoon with five days left in campaign

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

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

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

A B.C. man decided to create a website to help people find family doctors accepting patients. Because Victoria is considered high-demand, clinic openings can’t be posted publicly. (Unsplash)
Vancouver Island man starts website that connects B.C. residents with doctors

Nanaimo man started project to help people find family physicians accepting patients

Voting station at Tzeachten Hall in the riding of Chilliwack-Kent on the first day of advance voting in the provincial election on Oct. 15, 2020. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. VOTES 2020: 380,000 British Columbians head to polls in first 4 days of advance voting

Some of highest voter turnout so far has been seen on Vancouver Island and in Shuswap

Most Read