For the second time in just over four months the B.C. government will introduce a speech from the throne. And for the second time in a little more than four months it will be done so under the pressure of a COVID-19.
Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin is expected to outline the province’s vision for the next few months and set up the first post-election budget. The budget will also be the first since the province declared a provincial state of emergency linked to the pandemic more than a year ago.
The December 2020 speech was a post-election blueprint outlining what the province had accomplished in the fight against COVID-19 and looked forward to early steps of economic recovery.
At the time the BC CDC website listed the rolling seven-day new case average at 677.1 per day.
Monday’s speech is expected to outline the province’s next steps in mitigating spread of the virus and managing the economy. Now the BC CDC dashboard shows 1076.1 new COVID cases per day.
Austin will read the speech around 2:15 p.m. and BC1 will carry the speech live.
The provincial budget is scheduled for April 20. The throne speech and the budget were pushed backs in hope the COVID vaccine would be further ahead and have the province in better position for immediate economic recovery.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry is expecting to extend provincial health orders currently set to expire on April 19. The orders include a ban on in-person dining, a ban on group fitness activities and include a ban on social gatherings and events that have been in place since December.
It is unclear how long current restrictions could be in place or whether new restrictions will be added. When asked over the weekend, Health Minister Adrian Dix addressed ongoing rumours by saying ‘no’ to a question about whether a lockdown was coming on Monday.
Despite the growth in cases and ongoing health concerns, British Columbia’s economy is still relatively healthy.
The province announced plans last week to financially support businesses impacted by the latest restrictions and the Labour Force Survey for March shows B.C. added 35,000 jobs last month.
This marks 11 consecutive months of job gains, and we have now surpassed 100 per cent of pre-pandemic employment levels.