Government representatives are stressing that people remain calm through the COVID-19 situation, and that following the recommendations are the best way to ensure the safety of people in the community.
Federal MP Rachel Blaney spoke to reporters Tuesday morning. She discussed the recent update from the federal level, particularly about how the NDP is working with residents of the riding who are currently abroad and helping them get back to Canada quickly.
“if you know of anyone from the area or from Canada to let them know to register with the Canadian consulate in their areas so that they can provide those people with information and assistance as they require it,” Blaney said.
Blaney has also been working with rural and remote First Nations communities in the northern parts of the island to ensure that supplies and services are available as quickly and efficiently as possible. People experiencing homelessness are also vulnerable to the virus, and are often incapable of social distancing.
“As we go through this change, we need to make sure people who don’t have access to clean running water are getting the supports and the things that they need to be taken care of,” she said.
Though Parliament is closed until April, some federal ministers will be called back to discuss things like tax deadline extension, EI for workers and ensuring Canadians are able to pay their mortgages on time. She explained that part of the NDP’s strategy was to push for more inclusive EI for those who do not either make enough to survive on EI or for those whose employment precludes them from the system, for example contract workers or small business owners.
“We need to make sure there are ways for them to move forward,” she said. “We don’t want to see the economy hit too hard, and we don’t want people struggling to pay their bills as we go through this.”
On a local level, the NDP office will not be accepting walk in meetings, but staff are available to answer phones and meetings are being conducted via phone or teleconferencing.
Provincial MLA Claire Trevena also spoke with the Mirror Tuesday. She agreed with her federal counterpart that it was important people remain sensible and not get carried away with panic buying or swept up in social media-induced fervour.
“Nobody has seen anything like this,” Trevena said. “The uncertainty is compounded by social media. People start putting things out on social media that sometimes isn’t helpful. I think it’s important to be mindful, be respectful and follow the advice of the health experts on this, and not to try and speculate about what may or may not be happening, but what we all have to do is work on how we don’t allow this to spread.”
Trevena thanked the frontline workers who are unable to take time off during the crisis, saying that they are the ones providing the essential services to keep the province running, albeit at a reduced rate. Trevena said that keeping the highways, ferries and connections open to the rest of Canada is important to ensure that the province is able to recover and continue after the crisis.
“We are one country. We are looking at ways to continue to be as one country. All of our highways remain open. We have BC transit operating our buses, we still have the ferries operating on our marine highway,” she said. “We are making sure that people can travel safely and healthily around the province. If there is essential travel needed they can travel around the country.”
“We have economic dependency, we need our supply chains, we have two very very important courts that operate. We need to ensure that we continue to have the ability to work as one country,” she added.