Premier John Horgan addressed British Columbians this morning (Nov. 18) for the first time since officially winning the snap-election last month, but his remarks were less than joyous.
He began the news conference by re-iterating that all non-essential travel in the province is prohibited as COVID-19 cases have spiked in the last several weeks with consistent daily records broken and more deaths occurring in every health authority.
On Tuesday (Nov. 18), Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry reported 717 cases for the virus, including a daily record 21 infections out of Northern Health, along with 11 deaths.
"We see some hope, but we can't lose our resolve," he explained while adding will be speaking with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on what he called a pan-Canadian travel policy.
Horgan indicated he believes that he will be able to work with Trudeau on a travel policy that will help protect all Canadians including British Columbians.
When asked about a blanket mask policy for B.C., Horgan indicated he felt that it is behaviours, not policies, that have seen the number of cases of COVID-19 spike in B.C. and elsewhere in Canada.
"This is not the time to go storm watching on the West Coast of Vancouver Island. This is not the time to be making plans for large gatherings at Christmas. If you're not required to travel, you shouldn't travel."
Horgan also indicated that money he promised during the election may be here in time for Christmas, however, he hedged his bets saying, "I'm not sure it makes any difference to British Columbians dealing with COVID-19 whether the cheque arrives on Dec. 24 or shortly thereafter."
Horgan promised the NDP would give families in the province up to $1,000 in a one-time recovery benefit during the election campaign.
The fund applies to families whose household income is under $125,000, with reduced amounts for families making up to $175,000 and $500 for single people making under $62,000, with reduced amounts for single people making under $87,000.
Premier Horgan also announced that the B.C. legislature will return Dec. 7 with the province's new NDP majority government laying out its plans in a throne speech.
Cabinet will be sworn in on Nov. 26 and members of the legislature will take part in a swearing-in next Tuesday (Nov. 24).
- with files from Jess Fedigan, PrinceGeorgeMatters, and Rob Gibson, Castanet