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B.C. government wants input on how $1.5 billion will be spent to address post-COVID-19 economy

B.C. premier announces move towards Phase 3 of recovery plan will begin next week
B.C. premier announces move towards Phase 3 of recovery plan will begin next week

Premier John Horgan and Finance Minister Carole James announced a new online survey and series of virtual townhalls on Wednesday.

“The pandemic has been challenging, but our province has already accomplished so much in this fight, thanks to British Columbians. We are at our best when we work together, and that’s how we’re going to move forward,” Horgan said.

“Throughout the pandemic we’ve been meeting with businesses, labour, First Nations, not-for-profits and more to get their perspective. We’ve heard lots of good ideas, and we are taking action. We want to hear directly from British Columbians to make sure the recovery works for them.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus outbreak at B.C. fast-food restaurant a ‘wake-up call’: Henry

This comes as the province continues to plan for the next phase in the reopening.

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Horgan says Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix will present a new set of modelling data early next week. The government anticipates it will announce a move to Phase 3 following the release of the data.

The big part of Phase 3 will be an encouragement for British Columbians to travel within the province. Horgan also clarifying on Wednesday all Canadians will be welcome to travel to the province once the next phase begins.

“We are hopeful the modelling we see will allow us to lift internal travel restrictions. And when I say internal, that means within Canada,” Horgan said.

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“Dr Henry and I have been abundantly clear that Canadians have the right to travel within our country. We have never proposed putting up obstacles between Yukon Territory, Alberta and British Columbia; quite the contrary.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus outbreak at B.C. fast-food restaurant a ‘wake-up call’: Henry

The province is also releasing details on the economic recovery website around the impacts of COVID-19.

Coronavirus: B.C. finance minister outlines priorities for province’s COVID-19 recovery plan
Coronavirus: B.C. finance minister outlines priorities for province’s COVID-19 recovery plan

Finance Minister Carole James says nearly half of all jobs lost due to COVID-19 have been in accommodations, food services and retail. Women, young adults and low-wage workers have all experienced relatively greater job losses.

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“The recovery is going to be a tough task, and we need to be open to new ideas and new approaches. At the same time, core B.C. values like equity, taking care of each other, sustainability and reconciliation have not changed,” James said.

“In practice, those values will take the form of more good-paying jobs, advancing reconciliation and meeting climate goals, and growing an innovative, resilient economy that works for people.”

But even though people are still struggling through the pandemic, the province will not commit to extending or adding to the $1,000 B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers announced in March.

B.C. premier on when long-term care home residents can see their loved ones
B.C. premier on when long-term care home residents can see their loved ones

Horgan also suggesting the province will not be extending the B.C. Temporary Rental Supplement Program providing support for landlords and renters.

“It’s posed challenges not just for tenants, but for landlords as well, not just individuals, but businesses as well. There are a host of challenges when it comes to how do we manage the cost of living, the cost of renting spaces,” Horgan said.

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“It may not be the same program that we have in place now, but we’re committed to making sure that people will get the resources they need to get through this.”