Last week Premier John Horgan released information about British Columbia’s restart plan.
Nothing about the past few months has been easy. Asking British Columbians to stay home, miss important occasions like births, funerals and religious celebrations, close their businesses, and stay at least two metres away from each other is very difficult. However, it’s necessary in order to protect the most vulnerable people in our society – our friends, family and neighbours who are immune-compromised and our elders.
New difficulties emerge for public health and safety officials.
Now that we have been isolating for more than two months, how do we ease the restrictions in a way that we maintain the new habits we have learned while still limiting ourselves to at the most 60% of our pre-COVID interactions?
Life as we knew it has changed and in many respects it’s unlikely to return. As a result, much of our society (and our expectations) need to be re-organized to accommodate the “new normal.”
British Columbia did not close down our economy as far as many other jurisdictions. The list of essential services announced by the Minister responsible for public safety was exhaustive. Rather than ordering everyone to shut down, British Columbians were asked to take responsibility for respecting and complying with the orders. Many businesses adapted their operations to fit the requirements and people modified their lives.
COVID-19 is a devastating disease. As time passes health researchers are learning more about the damage it causes throughout our bodies. There is still so much we don’t know; it is critically important that as restrictions are lifted, that we move slowly and deliberately.
The upcoming months will be incredibly challenging, but patience is key in taking our next steps. Local businesses need our support but they also need time to get set up for success so they can provide the goods and services we need, while keeping their employees and customers safe.
British Columbia has been successful in flattening the curve and keeping transmission rates low because British Columbians have taken the orders and recommendations seriously. We must treat the next phase with the same level of determination.
If we don’t continue to be considerate of the health of our neighbours and community members, there is a high likelihood that transmissions will increase, and public health and safety officials will need to put in place more restrictive measures again.
As part of Premier Horgan’s announcement last week, he mentioned that this summer MLA’s will be returning to our work in the Legislative Assembly. Assembly staff have been working on ways for us to do our work while keeping a safe distance. I will learn more in the coming days about when and how the legislative session will continue.
Constituency office remains closed to walk-in traffic.
As with all public offices we must assess the risk associated with re-opening. We will be looking closely at whether we can deliver an in-person service safely in our office as well as the public spaces in the Landmark Building. Our team has been working hard to keep up with all the correspondence and advocacy for our constituency while working remotely. If you need our assistance please do not hesitate to email us at Adam.Olsen.MLA@leg.bc.ca or call 250-655-5600.
The B.C. Green Caucus continues to meet regularly with the government through our Confidence and Supply Agreement. We have advanced a comprehensive outline of recovery measures that set our province up for success in the future. We are not looking back, rather we are looking forward to stimulating economic resilience through investments in making our communities more sustainable, and a stronger, more active social safety net. I will have a lot more to say about this in the days and weeks to follow.
Please continue to follow all the public health and safety orders and recommendations. As Dr. Bonnie Henry has consistently reminded us, please be patient, and please be kind. Re-engage carefully and slowly. To learn more about British Columbia’s re-start plan please visit www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-preparedness-response-recovery/covid-19-provincial-support/bc-restart-plan.
Thank you for doing your part to keep us all safe.
– Adam Olsen is MLA for Saanich North and the Islands