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)

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

Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley was passed up for a cabinet position by Premier John Horgan. (Photo submitted)
Routley left off the list of NDP cabinet ministers again

Premier Horgan opts for some newcomers in key positions over experienced MLA

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement forecasting windy weather Sunday and Monday. (News Bulletin file photo)
More windy weather on the way for Vancouver Island

Environment Canada issues special weather statement for Victoria, east coast of Island, north Island

Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce has worked to support businesses throughout the pandemic. (File photo)
Ladysmith Chamber reflects on a challenging 2020

For small businesses looking to adapt to the challenges of COVID-19 one… Continue reading

49th parallel was an early adopter of Plexiglas shields, and required staff to wear face masks. (49th Parallel photo)
49th Parallel continues to grow in spite of pandemic

The biggest challenge of the pandemic has been keeping shelves stocked at 49th Parallel stores

Freighter anchored off Kin Beach in Chemainus. (Photo by Don Bodger)
MacGregor to host expert panel for virtual town hall on freighter anchorages issue

Residents can participate through MP’s website or Facebook page Dec. 3

(Dave Landine/Facebook)
VIDEO: Dashcam captures head-on crash between snowplow and truck on northern B.C. highway

Driver posted to social media that he walked away largely unscathed

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Langley RCMP issued a $2,300 fine to the Riverside Calvary church in Langley in the 9600 block of 201 Street for holding an in-person service on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, despite a provincial COVID-19 related ban (Dan Ferguson/Black Press Media)
Langley church fined for holding in-person Sunday service

Calvary church was fined $2,300 for defying provincial order

A pedestrian makes their way through the snow in downtown Ottawa on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Wild winter, drastic swings in store for Canada this year: Weather Network

In British Columbia and the Prairies, forecasters are calling for above-average snowfall levels

NDP Leader John Horgan, left, speaks as local candidate Ravi Kahlon listens during a campaign stop at Kahlon’s home in North Delta, B.C., on April 18, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
The Nanaimo Rona location. (News Bulletin photo)
Rona home improvement store in Nanaimo advises that worker has COVID-19

Store re-opened Sunday after closing for cleaning Saturday

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Top doctor urges Canadians to limit gatherings as ‘deeply concerning’ outbreaks continue

Canada’s active cases currently stand at 63,835, compared to 53,907 a week prior

A Canadian Pacific freight train travels around Morant’s Curve near Lake Louise, Alta., on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. A study looking at 646 wildlife deaths along the railway tracks in Banff and Yoho national parks in Alberta and British Columbia has found that train speed is one of the biggest factors. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Study finds train speed a top factor in wildlife deaths in Banff, Yoho national parks

Research concludes effective mitigation could address train speed and ability of wildlife to see trains

A airport worker is pictured at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C. Wednesday, March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada extends COVID restrictions for non-U.S. travellers until Jan. 21 amid second wave

This ban is separate from the one restricting non-essential U.S. travel

Most Read