One aspect of the long awaited economic recovery plan announced by the Premier and Minister of Finance in B.C. today has particular implications for the expected ‘second wave’ of the COVID-19 pandemic this fall.
As part of the province’s $1.5 billion economic recovery plan, the Premier and Minister of Finance announced funding of $300 million to hire thousands of new workers in the health care sector.
This would fund the hiring of 7,000 new front line health care workers including thousands of care aides to manage outbreaks in long term care homes and 600 contact tracers to help find and inform people who have been exposed to COVID-19.
The province says this plan will also increase support for mental health care in the workplace and introduce a new Hospital at Home initiative that will allow patients to receive medical services in their own home from a team of health professionals—this initiative is set to kick off at the Victoria General Hospital and was announced earlier this month.
“When COVID-19 first hit, we acted quickly to keep people safe and support those in need. While we are now starting to see hopeful signs of recovery, we know many people are still struggling and there is a lot of work left to do,” said finance Minister Carole James in a statement.
“British Columbians are pulling together, and we’ll be there to support them every step of the way.”
A further breakdown of the $300 million funding for health care is available below:
This amount was announced as part of a broader breakdown of COVID-19 and other related expenditures released Thursday afternoon, and questions remain as to which of the investments are new and which were already announced in previous months.
The full report, entitled ‘Stronger BC for everyone’, details not just the $1.5 billion in expenditures set aside for economic recovery but also throws in a mix of previously announced funding—like the $30 million to improve Bamfield Road on Vancouver Island announced last week.
This 40-page report prompted further speculation about Premier Horgan’s plans to potentially call an early election this fall.
When asked about his plans at a media briefing, Horgan said he has not made a decision yet.