Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth is using extraordinary powers under the state of provincial emergency to ensure BC Ferries can implement all procedures necessary to provide priority medical-assured loading on the first available vessel for any individual, their vehicle and an escort, as part of the Province's continued COVID-19 pandemic response.
“As the Province’s safe restart plan continues and use of ferry services increases, we are updating ministerial orders under the Emergency Program Act,” Farnworth said. “These new provisions will ensure that medical-assured loading is protected for people travelling by ferry for medical treatment. BC Ferries will also continue to give priority to vehicles carrying essential goods and supplies, and will need to consult the Province before changing or varying minimum ferry service levels.”
To access priority loading for medical treatment, passengers must provide a doctor’s letter indicating the individual requires medical-assured loading for treatment at check-in, as well as a completed Travel Assistance Program (TAP) form. The doctor’s letter does not require a specific date or time, or number of occasions the person travelling requires medical-assured loading to receive medical treatment, but may specify a period of time of up to one year from the date of the letter within which the individual requires medical-assured loading.
The provincial government is also rescinding some emergency measures enacted in March 2020 under the Local Authorities and Essential Goods and Supplies (COVID-19) Order, including priority access for passengers sailing to their primary residence.
“We introduced these measures, with the public interest in mind, at the beginning of the pandemic when ferry routes were significantly reduced. We wanted to ensure people could get home and to help ensure essential services for remote communities were maintained,” said Claire Trevena, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “We expect BC Ferries to put the public interest first. Now that ferry service levels have increased with more British Columbians travelling within the province, we expect BC Ferries to continue to monitor demand and ensure adequate capacity is in place.”
In addition to the measure related to ferry routes, the province is also rescinding or partially rescinding two further provisions under Ministerial Order 84, the Local Authorities and Essential Goods and Supplies (COVID-19) Order:
- a provision that requires local authorities to implement an emergency plan, as this requirement has been fully implemented; and
- rescinding a provision that set aside declarations of local states of emergency made on or before March 26, 2020. Local authorities will still be required to seek approval from the Province before making a new declaration of a state of local emergency or using any extraordinary powers in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, local authorities have no restrictions on their ability to enact states of local emergency or use of extraordinary powers as they relate to other issues such as floods and fires.
On March 18, 2020, Farnworth declared a provincial state of emergency, the day after Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, declared a public health emergency. The provincial state of emergency and the subsequent extensions are based on recommendations from B.C.'s health and emergency management officials.
The Travel Assistance Program (TAP) form and more information on the program is available here: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/accessing-health-care/tap-bc/travel-assistance-program-tap-bc
To learn more about B.C.’s economic recovery planning, visit: http://gov.bc.ca/recoveryideas
For information on BC’s Restart Plan, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/RestartBC
For information on non-medical issues like travel recommendations and how to manage social isolation, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/COVID-19
For information on federal and provincial government supports available to individuals, families, businesses and organizations, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/covidgovernmentbenefits
For recommendations on protecting yourself and your community, including for employers, businesses and schools, visit: http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/coronavirus-(novel)
For more information and latest medical updates on COVID-19, follow the BC Centre for Disease Control on Twitter @CDCofBC
Or visit its website: http://www.bccdc.ca/