by Today’s Trucking
March 27, 2020
VICTORIA, B.C. – The B.C. government is using what it calls “extraordinary powers” under its Emergency Program Act, issuing a series of ministerial orders to ensure a coordinated response to the Covid-19 crisis.
The move addresses several actions the government can take during this provincial emergency, including establishing a Provincial Supply Chain Coordination Unit to get essential goods to consumers.
B.C.’s Joint Information Centre relayed to Today’s Trucking that though the government does not anticipate needing to provide any direction to retailers, shippers, or those in any transportation mode, such as trucking, unless absolutely needed, it will continue to work with all parties to keep goods flowing to where they are needed.
“Retailers, distributors, and connectors are all working extremely well in keeping supplies flowing to our communities – they are doing a great job,” the Joint Information Centre stated. “We have implemented these measures so that we can immediately take any steps needed to direct supplies to where they are needed without delay.”
Under the local authorities and essential goods and supplies Covid-19 order, the minister can direct suppliers, distributors, and retailers, as well as the B.C. Trucking Association (BCTA) to take coordinated measures to ensure the effective delivery of essential goods and supplies throughout the province. Those supplies include food, fuel, medicine, and other goods prioritized by the minister.
The Province can also direct other modes of transportation, like rail, sea, and air.
“B.C. is in a strong position to effectively respond to and recover from the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Mike Farnworth, minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “Informed by the direction of the provincial health officer, we’re taking these critical steps to keep our communities safe, goods moving, and essential service workers supported.”
Dave Earle, president and CEO of the BCTA, said he does not see this “enabling legislation” changing anything for the trucking industry now or in the foreseeable future, though the association does support the move, as it gives government the ability to act if necessary.
This coordinated response to Covid-19 also gives the province the ability to act when it comes to protecting consumers by banning the secondary sale of food, medical supplies, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and other supplies, as well as restricting quantities of items purchased at point of sale.
The Province can protect B.C.’s most vulnerable by making it easier to support critical services like food banks and shelters. It can also ensure all passenger and car-ferry services provide minimum service levels, and enable municipal bylaw officers to support enforcement of the provincial health officer’s orders for business closures and gatherings.
“Many local governments, First Nations, and partners have stepped up to make sure they have prepared to protect their communities from the impacts of Covid-19,” said Farnworth. “Today’s measures will make sure communities are taking necessary steps, in coordination with the Province, to get ready should more action be required to combat Covid-19.”