North Van MLA to co-host virtual town hall on COVID-19 Friday

Do you still wonder if you need to disinfect your groceries? Or wear a home-made mask for your stroll along the Seawalk? How do you know if you’ve already had the coronavirus?

Those with nagging questions about COVID-19 and the coronavirus pandemic will want to tune in on Friday evening as North Vancouver-Lonsdale MLA Bowinn Ma and Richmond-Steveston MLA John Yap co-host a virtual town hall meeting with local health officials.

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Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Patricia Daly and CEO Mary Ackenhusen for Vancouver Coastal Health will join the two MLAs as they discuss the latest information on COVID-19 in the Lower Mainland and field submitted questions from the public.

The Friday forum is one of several taking place in health regions around the province.

While livestreamed daily press conferences with Dr. Bonnie Henry, chief medical health officer for B.C., and Health Minister Adrian Dix have become required viewing for many in B.C., questions at those events are limited to media. The town hall is a chance for the public to ask questions, said Ma.

The event will begin at 7:15 p.m. and will be livestreamed on the government's Facebook page and on the province's YouTube channel, and we'll also stream it live on our North Shore News Facebook page.

Members of the public can submit questions in advance by email on the government's website.

They can also ask via Facebook chat during the livestreamed event.

Ma said her office has heard from many constituents with questions since the pandemic started – many of those questions about financial supports, including ones from the federal government.

Recent announcements expanding the criteria of individuals and businesses eligible for help should allow many of those people to rest a little easier, said Ma, adding there’s still more to do.

North Vancouver-Seymour MLA Jane Thornthwaite said she’s also been hearing concerns from constituents – many of them about the financial impact of the pandemic on small businesses which have had to close.

Whether those businesses are salons, restaurants or physiotherapists’ offices, paying rent and taxes with no income has been the number one concern, said Thornthwaite.

“I worry some of them aren’t ever going to be able to open again. That’s tragic,” she said.

Both Ma and Thornthwaite said measures including federal emergency business loans and rent assistance for businesses and school tax cuts from the province – all announced Thursday – should help ease the burden.

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