British Columbians should be disappointed that Premier John Horgan has called an election in the middle of a pandemic and a year before one is mandated under provincial legislation, Prince George-Valemount incumbent MLA Shirley Bond said Monday.
"What British Columbians deserve is an assurance from the health minister, the education minister, the premier that their number one focus during a pandemic is concentrating on the safety, the health and well being of British Columbians," Bond said. "That is very difficult to do while you're on the campaign trail."
She disputed Horgan's claim that holding an election now or next October will make little difference because the pandemic will still be with us.
"Let's be clear, he has no idea what next year will look like from a health care perspective," Bond said and added provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has made encouraging comments about the possibility of a vaccine by that time.
As it stands, Bond said the number of cases of COVID are on the rise and noted that in calling the election, he broke the New Democratic Party's agreement with the B.C. Green Party, "which actually made him premier in the first place."
"He promised he would not call an election without testing the confidence of the House, so that was the number one promise he broke," Bond said.
"And secondly, there is fixed election date legislation in this province. You are required by law to have a fixed election date and Premier Horgan decided that that wasn't important either.
"What is important today to John Horgan is that he asks the electorate for a majority government during the middle of a pandemic and I think people should be very disappointed by the premier's decision to do that today."
She said the B.C. Liberals are ready for an election campaign and that the party has a great slate of candidates headed by a strong leader in Andrew Wilkinson.
Bond said she will focus in health care and noted the NDP's "last-minute announcement" that a new surgical tower at University Hospital of Northern British Columbia, at a cost of $600-$700 million, is now on the province's 10-year capital plan.
"I want to make sure that that project moves forward," she said. "We need to make sure that there is money that will flow to make enhancements at University Hospital of Northern B.C."
Bond said more training for health care professionals in northern B.C. is also a priority, as is rebuilding the province's resource-rich economy in a safe and sustainable manner.
She said campaigning in the midst of a pandemic will require some innovation. Large rallies will be out of the question and door knocking will need to be done carefully. Voting will be by mail-in ballot and will require some education, Bond added.