Premier Horgan pleased with federal restart funding

$600M infusion for transit

UPDATE: 2 p.m.

Premier John Horgan says he's proud of the role British Columbia played in crafting a multi-billion dollar federal restart program.

Prime Minister Trudeau announced Thursday morning the federal government had reached an agreement with the 10 provinces and three territories to inject $19 billion into those economies to help rebound from COVID-19.

B.C. will receive between $2.1 and $2.2 billion of that.

"I'm particularly proud of our ability here in British Columbia to push the rest of the country to embrace the idea of a paid sick leave program, nationally funded and nationally co-ordinated," said Horgan during an afternoon press conference.

"Dr. Henry made it clear to me early on in the pandemic was that the biggest challenge we had in the restart was to make sure people didn't go to work when they had potential symptoms that could lead to transmission to other workers or customers in the economy."

Horgan says the province was also able to work with other heads of government for funds to help with issues around vulnerable populations.

That includes increased funding for mental health issues, child care, and people with disabilities.

"And, there's more to come," he said.

Horgan says he was also able to get specific 50-50 funding to assist financially ravaged transit operations across the province.

While transit initially saw a dramatic decrease in ridership as much of the economy shut down through the early months of the pandemic, Horgan says those numbers have seen an increase the past few weeks as things open up again.

"But, the fare boxes have been hit hard. Revenues for BC Transit, revenues for TransLink have fallen off a cliff.

"Having the support of the federal government as 50-50 partners as we rebuild ridership and work with municipal partners is critically important.

"We anticipate we will need about $600 million to get back on track. Work with Trans Link and transit to make sure we get the dollars right. And, this is just for this year. We're going to continue to have challenges going forward. The federal government understands that."

The feds are also expected to assist municipalities who have also seen revenues take a drastic hit.

UPDATE: 12:50 p.m.

Premier John Horgan's press conference concerning B.C.s response to COVID-19 is set to begin at 1 p.m.

Castanet will live-stream the conference. 

Premier John Horgan's weekly press conference to deal with issues around COVID-19 will not take place as scheduled.

A message on the conference call indicates only that the press conference has been postponed indefinitely.

Word from the Premier's office is that the press conference will be held later this afternoon.

The postponement comes amid controversy over the number of actual cases of COVID-19 in the province.

A report late Wednesday indicated there may be up to eight times as many people infected with the virus in Metro Vancouver alone than has been reported.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addressed that issue Thursday morning.

Castanet is working on a story, and will update it shortly.

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