British Columbia

COVID-19 will temporarily affect B.C. economy, says premier

With an open economy and a diverse population, Horgan says the number of cases of the novel coronavirus in the province is not surprising.

The province has reported 39 cases of COVID-19 so far

Premier John Horgan referenced COVID-19 in his economic address to the Surrey Board of Trade on Tuesday, March 10, 2020. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Premier John Horgan told the Surrey Board of Trade on Tuesday that the virus will affect the economy in the short-term.

"We have seen two of the worst forest fire seasons. On top of that we have what is now a pandemic and we have extraordinary challenges within the markets around the world," he said. "But planning and preparing is key to success." 

Public health institutions in the province are well placed to cope with the novel coronavirus, having learned lessons from the SARS outbreak in 2003 and the H1N1 pandemic in 2009, he said.

With an open economy and a diverse population, Horgan said the number of cases of COVID-19 in the province is not surprising and is expected to grow.

Horgan credited Finance Minister Carole James with building "lots of prudence" into the budget in case contingencies are needed, adding that "forecasting is an inexact science on a good day but when you have the prospects of a pandemic it's extremely difficult."

Anita Huberman, chief executive officer of the Surrey Board of Trade, said the economic impact from COVID-19 is already being felt and small businesses have the greatest risk because they don't have the resources available to their larger counterparts.

"We're observing," she added. "The worry is not severe. We're just worried."

Huberman said all levels of government should include businesses in their planning processes.

More cases

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced seven additional cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, bringing the total to 39.

Henry said in a news conference two cases are connected to the Lynn Valley care centre worker, three are travel-related, and with the other two is it unclear where the people contracted the infection from.

The province has reported one death.


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