New Brunswick Legislature may hold virtual sittings within 2 weeks

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The New Brunswick Legislature could be holding virtual sittings within the next two weeks.

MLAs from four parties sitting on the legislative administration committee agreed Friday to get equipment and technology installed quickly so the assembly can resume its business.

It adjourned on Tuesday because almost half of the MLAs are from the two zones that were under COVID-19 orange phase restrictions at the time. The province is discouraging travel into and out of those zones.

Since then, a third zone, which includes the legislature itself, has been put into the orange phase.

MLAs from the Green Party complained Tuesday that there was still no set-up for virtual sittings eight months after COVID-19 first appeared in New Brunswick.

Liberal Leader Roger Melanson said in a statement that a service provider will start installing the system on Monday.

"The legislature must keep on working through COVID-19 outbreaks and beyond," he said. "This system will allow us to do just that."

The new hybrid system could be up and running in time for committee hearings on legislation scheduled for next week.

MLAs are scheduled to return for full sittings Dec. 8. Speaker Bill Oliver said he hopes the system will be ready for then, though that date could be pushed back if necessary.