Food chain part of B.C. COVID-19 measures

The British Columbia minister of public safety and solicitor general has issued a series of ministerial orders under the Emergency Program Act in response to COVID-19.

Issued March 26 by minister Mike Farnsworth, the province is stepping up consumer protection and enforcement.

These measures include:

Supply chain: Establishing a new provincial supply chain co-ordination unit to co-ordinate goods and services distribution; taking a more active role in co-ordinating essential goods and services movement by land, air, marine and rail and suspending any bylaws that restrict goods delivery at any time of day.

Protecting consumers: Banning the secondary resale of food, medical supplies, personal protective equipment, cleaning and other essential supplies and restricting quantities of items purchased at point of sale.

Enforcement: Enabling municipal bylaw officers to support enforcement of the provincial health officer’s orders for business closures and gatherings, in line with offences under the Public Health Act.

Travel: Ensuring all passenger and car-ferry services provide minimum service levels and priority access for residents, and essential goods and workers.

Co-ordination: Suspending local states of emergency specific to the COVID-19 pandemic, except for the City of Vancouver; giving municipal councils the ability to hold more flexible meetings to expedite decisions; and co-ordinating potential use of local publicly owned facilities, like community centres, for self-isolation, testing, medical care, warehousing and distribution.

The province also identified essential services and Farnsworth declared a public state of emergency on March 18.

These include all health services, law enforcement and first responders, vulnerable population service providers, critical infrastructure providers, information technology providers, sanitation workers and transportation. Banks and post offices are also on the list.

Food and agriculture service providers are also considered essential. This includes:

• food cultivation, including farming, livestock, aquaculture and fishing, and businesses that support the food supply chain, as well as community gardens and subsistence agriculture;

• food processing, manufacturing, storage and distribution of foods, feed products and beverages;

• workers essential to maintaining or repairing equipment in food processing and distribution centres;

• workers, including temporary foreign workers, to support agricultural operations to enhance food security;

• retail: grocery stores, convenience stores, farmers markets and other establishments engaged in the retail sale or provision of food, pet or livestock supply, liquor, cannabis (including producers), and any other household consumer products, such as cleaning and personal care products;

• includes stores that sell groceries and also sell other non-grocery products, and products necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation and essential daily operation of residences, such as home supply, hardware, building material stores, pawn brokers, and garden centres and nurseries;

• farming supply, including seed, fertilizer, pesticides, farm-machinery sales and maintenance;

• inspection services and associated regulatory and government workforce and supporting businesses required for slaughter of animals, dairy production and food safety;

• businesses that provide for the health and welfare of animals, including veterinarians, farms, boarding kennels, stables, animal shelters, zoos, aquariums, research facilities and other service providers.

Non-health essential service providers:

• feed, water, bedding, veterinary care, veterinary supply, transport and processing services for livestock, animal shelters and pets.

Contact barbara.duckworth@producer.com

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