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Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth

B.C. extends state of emergency; limitation period suspension ends March 25

Wednesday, March 17, 2021 @ 9:36 AM | By Ian Burns

British Columbia has formally extended the provincial state of emergency for the 26th time, marking a year since the declaration was issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state of emergency is now extended through the end of the day on March 30, allowing health and emergency management officials to continue to use extraordinary powers under the Emergency Program Act (EPA) to support the province’s pandemic response.

“British Columbians have been living with the challenges of COVID-19 for more than a year, and while our lives have changed, our resolve has not,” said Premier John Horgan in a news release. “This is a sobering occasion, but with vaccinations ongoing in B.C., it’s also one for hope and optimism. Let’s continue to follow public health orders and advice to ensure we can be healthy and safe as we look forward to better days ahead.”

The extension of the provincial state of emergency is based on recommendations from B.C.’s health and emergency management officials. The original declaration was made on March 18, 2020, the day after provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry declared a public health emergency.

 Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth

Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth

“Although this has been a challenging year, the best is still before us. If we continue to focus on keeping ourselves and our communities safe by following the orders and restrictions in place, we will end this state of emergency,” said Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth. “I want to thank the majority of people in B.C. who are following the rules. For those who don’t, our compliance and enforcement officers have the tools they need to enforce the orders. Know that if you break the rules, you will face consequences.”

In July 2020 the province brought in the COVID-19 Related Measures Act, enabling provisions created for citizens and businesses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to continue as needed should the provincial state of emergency end.

Although the state of emergency is continuing, a temporary suspension of limitation periods to commence court proceedings in British Columbia will end March 25. Limitation periods for commencing a new civil or family action or appeal were suspended on March 26, 2020.

The decision to end the suspension was made following consultations with the judiciary, as well as the Law Society of British Columbia (LSBC), the Canadian Bar Association, B.C. Branch (CBABC) and the Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia (TLABC).

Persons, tribunals and other bodies with a statutory power of decision will continue to have a temporary discretionary power to waive, suspend or extend mandatory time periods relating to the exercise of that power, but this does not extend to courts. This power will remain in force for 90 days beyond the end of the provincial state of emergency.

Click here for more information on B.C.’s COVID-19 response.
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