British Columbia

Province prepares to fast-track emergency legislation

The B.C. government is coming up with a plan to amend the Employment Standards Act with only a quorum of MLAs needed to make legislative changes.

B.C. government plans to amend employment standards with only a quorum of MLAs

Premier John Horgan holds joint news conference Tuesday with Education Minister Rob Fleming and Finance Minister Carole James to update B.C.'s response to COVID-19. (Richard Blais / CBC)

The B.C. government is coming up with a plan to push through emergency legislation. 

Premier John Horgan announced Tuesday the province is crafting amendments to the Employment Standards Act to quickly put in place safeguards to protect workers. 

But that still requires legislative changes, so the NDP is working with the Liberals and the Greens to come up with a way to fast-track those amendments while the legislature remains on spring break.

"We understand that bringing the legislature back is inconsistent with some of the other messages that we're giving to the public about not congregating in large groups," said Horgan. 

All three political parties have been working with the Speaker's office and health officials to find an alternative to fully reconvening as planned, with the spring sitting scheduled to resume March 23.  

"We could have a quorum of MLAs to debate the issue so the public has a clear understanding of the pros and the cons, but we do not need to have a full legislature to do that," Horgan said, referring to the minimum number of members needed for a valid vote under legislative rules.

He said the opposition parties have so far signaled a willingness to continue the business of government without everyone being present.

"You don't need all 87 members of the legislature to pass a piece of legislation, and to have the appropriate oversight and scrutiny that the legislation would need to give people confidence that we're working together on these issues."

As for the substance of the bill, Solicitor General and NDP House Leader Mike Farnworth is expected to announce further details Wednesday.

 

About the Author

Provincial Affairs Reporter covering the B.C. Legislature. Anything political: tanya.fletcher@cbc.ca

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