Thanks to the efforts of British Columbians across our province and their dedication to the public health orders of our Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, we are beginning to see some encouraging signs our hard work is making a difference. This, however, does not mean a return to normal life any time soon.
Although we have done an excellent job so far in flattening the curve physical distancing measures will still need to be in place for the foreseeable future. As Dr. Bonnie Henry has iterated in her “hierarchy of controls,” physical distancing is still by far the most effective control against COVID-19, so it is as vital now as ever before that we continue these practices. We must continue to stay six feet apart, wash our hands as frequently as possible, and certainly continue to stay home if we are feeling unwell.
As the government prepares to introduce its re-opening plan this week, we must now begin to focus on our economic recovery. B.C. is facing one of the largest recessions in recent history due to the economic impact of COVID-19 and the economic recovery will need to be vast and complex.
The upcoming economic strains will be felt throughout the North, which has been hit no less hard than the rest of the province. Six of our province’s major forestry companies have announced curtailments and reductions in spending. Nearly 10% of restaurants have closed permanently with another 18% prepared to close permanently if conditions continue, and it is estimated that almost two-thirds of people working in B.C.’s tourism industry are currently without work. The energy sector is struggling and the mining sector is worried.
There is no doubt that our economic recovery will be a monumental task, but British Columbia does have a silver lining. We are rich in natural resources and blessed with some of the greatest economic minds that can produce a viable plan to help put our province back to work. We are going to have to tread the fine line between getting as many people back into the workforce as possible and maintaining appropriate public health guidance to prevent further outbreak of COVID-19.
As we move forward, government will need to produce a viable economic recovery plan to get our natural resources sector back on track, our small businesses thriving, and an infrastructure plan that can get it all moving again. The road to recovery will be long, but if we show the same spirit of support and unity that I have seen throughout our fight against COVID-19, I know we can bring economic opportunity and prosperity to B.C. again. Thank you, and thank you to our frontline workers!
Dan Davies is the MLA for Peace River North.