VANCOUVER -- BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson says the province is being forced into a general election in a "cynical" move by the NDP.

NDP Leader John Horgan announced Monday that British Columbians would be heading to the polls on Oct. 24, sparking sharp and immediate backlash from both the Greens and the Liberals.

"The only reason for this general election is to try to secure the jobs of the NDP," Wilkinson said.

"Think about why we're having this election. It's not necessary. The goal for the NDP is to secure their own employment."

Wilkinson blasted the NDP for ​calling the election as the province continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The decision by John Horgan and the NDP to call this election at this time is not just irresponsible. It's just plain wrong," Wilkinson said.

He echoed similar comments from B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau, who says she plans to hold Horgan accountable for the decision.

"Let's be clear, this is about him and his party putting their fortunes ahead of British Columbians at a time when people are worried about their jobs, their financial security, their children and their health," she said.

Horgan has insisted that during the pandemic, it's important for British Columbians to have stability, and he says he "struggled mightily" with the decision to hold an election.

"We do not need the cynical, self-serving, selfish move by the NDP to trigger an election right now," Wilkinson said.

When asked whether he was concerned about name recognition, Wilkinson said he had confidence in British Columbians taking the time to research each party's platforms and examine their values.

"I'm confident that the word will get out and I will get to know a lot more British Columbians, and they will get to know me," he said.

Just hours into the campaign, Wilkinson was asked about whether he would step down if the NDP wins a majority.  Though he didn't give a direct answer, he said, in part, "You shouldn't do this job unless you're an optimist."

The Liberal leader also slammed Horgan for calling an election a year early, and breaking the confidence and supply agreement that allowed the NDP to form a minority government with support from the Greens in 2017.

"We all have to wonder about the current premier, who has an ironclad deal with the Green Party to govern for another 13 months," he said.