On March 18 the provincial government officially declared a state of emergency, marking the beginning of the fight against COVID-19 in British Columbia. Nearly eight weeks later we are emerging from the acute phase of the public health crisis as one of the most successful jurisdictions at tackling the pandemic anywhere in the world. The selfless efforts of healthcare providers and essential service workers on the frontlines of the pandemic have been critical and inspiring. As well, the full commitment of British Columbians in heeding the guidance and directives provided by our Provincial Health Officer played an integral part to our success. People have put their social and work lives on hold to protect their loved ones, their neighbors, and our healthcare system for nearly two months.
Here in Oak Bay-Gordon Head, we have seen countless individuals and businesses step up to provide support to those in need. Island medical students have established a contactless grocery delivery service for seniors and have provided childcare services for frontline workers. Willows Pizza has kept all their employees on and has delivered pizza to healthcare providers at the Jubilee Hospital during shift changes. Oak Bay Beach Hotel has created a home delivery service for groceries. These are just some of the many examples of social solidarity that have helped guide Oak Bay-Gordon Head through these unprecedented times.
As restrictions begin to be gradually loosened in the weeks and months ahead, we must maintain our collective resolve and commitment that has characterized our pandemic response. We need to practice appropriate physical distancing when returning to workplaces. We need to limit our social groups to under six people. We need to maintain a reasonable physical distance when out in the community and take appropriate precautions where we are likely to come into close contact with others. The gains we have made in slowing the spread of COVID-19 have been hard won but will be easily lost if we come to believe that our work is over. By continuing to follow the advice of our provincial health officers we will help to prevent a rise in case numbers which will, in turn, allow us to move closer towards a daily reality that resembles normal life.
Over the next six weeks, as regular social and economic life slowly begins to return, so too will the regular business of government. Front and center will be discussions around how best to revive the provincial economy. In my view that economic recovery should be guided by plans that will produce desirable social and environmental outcomes. We are now reaping the rewards of listening to the science in the fight against COVID-19. Listening to the science in the fight against climate change will likewise provide critical benefits for all British Columbians. Science tells us that the steps taken over the next several years are critical to our ability to mitigate the impacts of a warming world. These facts must be front and centre in debates around economic recovery.
Recent research published by world leading economists has shown that investments in green infrastructure such as building retrofits and renewable energy sources have the potential to yield substantial short-and long-term economic benefits. Directing stimulus towards reforestation and ecosystem revitalization creates many jobs and generates long term revenue through higher crop and forestry yields. Resources devoted towards capital projects and housing help address the affordability crisis while creating new demand for labour.
While the pandemic has shed new light on existing vulnerabilities within our society, it has also shown what can be accomplished with collective action and evidenced based leadership. Going forward, we should use these lessons to build a more socially and ecologically resilient society.
Andrew Weaver is the MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head