On February 15, 2022, the Honourable John Horgan, Premier; the Honourable Adrian Dix, Minister of Health; and Dr. Bonnie Henry, the Provincial Health Officer, announced the lifting of many of the Public Health Orders that were ini place to keep us safe over the past two years. This announcement marked a change in tide and symbolizes a significant milestone in our collective fight against COVID-19 in British Columbia (B.C.) and a significant step forward for many of your businesses and the economy.
As of today, we can once again gather with the people who mean the most to us, indoors and outdoors, and at venues. We can return to restaurants and nightlife, tournaments, and important life events like weddings and celebrations of life. These are the activities that add meaning to our lives, and I am thrilled that we have come this far.
To be sure, the sectors that the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport is responsible for have borne the brunt of restrictions designed to protect our health system from COVID-19. You are in the “people business” and have built your livelihoods around bringing joy and creating memories for visitors and the residents of our province. There is nothing quite like hosting large events or hosting travellers to our province and sharing with them the best of B.C., inspiring children through the power of sport, dancing to your favourite band, or expressing your creativity in front of a live audience. I know how hard it has been to be unable to do the things we all love, and I am deeply grateful for your resilience in the face of adversity brought about by the pandemic.
Since the very beginning of my appointment as Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport, I was struck by your determination to manage through the pandemic and to keep people safe – your clients, employees, and broader communities. Time and again, you adapted your operations to protect people’s health, you shared best practices with your colleagues, and you stepped up as leaders even when times were very difficult.
I am immensely grateful for your ongoing engagement with Ministry staff and me, providing your advice, feedback, and recommendations. There is no doubt that we would not have weathered this storm as well as we have without your commitment to working in partnership with Government.
Together, we can now look towards a brighter future for everyone in our province. Because of your advocacy, we made investments in each sector to help lay a foundation for a strong recovery. We have much to look forward to this spring and summer, both in our personal lives and in the work we do everyday to make life better for people in our province.
I am looking forward to travelling the province this summer and getting to meet some of you in person, and experience firsthand the results of all your hard work. While I will not have the opportunity to meet all of you, I am committed to continuing the open and constructive dialogue we established over these past months. I believe that we have emerged from this storm more resilient, collaborative, and innovative than we were before.
On behalf of Premier Horgan and the entire B.C. Government, thank you for your sacrifices, hard work, and your dedication that allowed us to get this far.
I am your biggest fan. Let us keep paddling together.
Hli Haykwhl Ẃii Xsgaak
Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport
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