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BC Demonstrates Innovation

The ability to pivot in times of crisis demonstrates British Columbia’s resilience and ingenuity. In British Columbia, government, industry associations, companies and research universities are working together to overcome the challenges of the current global pandemic. We have compiled a selection of examples of the versatility and innovation emerging to support the people and businesses of this province.

Government Supports People, Business

The provincial and federal governments are building complimentary programs to streamline regulations and services. The provincial response highlights one of the fundamentals of British Columbia’s business-friendly environment: with a stable and supportive government, businesses and communities here thrive together.

The Government of B.C. introduced the $5-billion COVID- 19 Action Plan to support people and businesses during the pandemic. The plan provides income support and payment deferral for the Provincial Sales Tax, Employer Health Tax, hotel tax, carbon tax, motor fuel tax, and tobacco tax, along with extended tax filing and payment deadlines for various taxes. Various programs have been implemented to ease financial pressures for businesses.

British Columbia’s Indigenous communities are also demonstrating resilience and making efforts to protect their elders, who hold much of their oral histories and language. The First Nations Health Authority is working with provincial and federal partners to actively monitor and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Supply Hub Connects Supply with Demand, Builds Opportunity

Within weeks of the first reported cases of COVID-19 in British Columbia the Province partnered with the Business Council of British Columbia, the Digital Technology Supercluster, Salesforce, Traction on Demand, the Provincial Health Services Authority and several Provincial ministries to implement a supply hub. The hub is an online resource to coordinate the flow of donations and offers to supply medical and non-medical products and services to help support B.C.’s COVID-19 response. Businesses can register to supply or donate required materials.

Associations Prepare for the Future of Trade

The Ministry of Jobs, Economic Development and Competitiveness is delivering online webinars to promote opportunities in domestic and international Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). The webinars are intended to help businesses and communities across B.C. to take advantage of trade agreements and leverage available trade resources when they are ready to do so. The webinars cover key FTAs including the Canada-U.S.-Mexico Agreement, which will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement upon entry into force. The revised agreement will provide important stability for businesses and our economy, continue to provide preferential access to both the United States and Mexico, and include improved labour and environment provisions.

Small Business BC, in partnership with the federal and provincial governments, established the B.C. Business Support Service. This resource serves as a single point of contact (via phone, email, or live chat) for B.C. businesses looking for information on resources available during the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the service, SBBC has developed a website of resources to connect small businesses to the supports they need. It includes announcements from industry and community partners, as well as a variety of resources, including webinars and practical tools.

B.C. Businesses Adapt

British Columbia’s businesses are innovative and creative, skilled and flexible. Many have pivoted to create new products and services.

Vancouver designer John Fluevog Shoes has launched a limited-edition shoe called The Dr. Henry, inspired by the public health official whose calm, compassionate and candid demeanour has gained a loyal following among B.C. residents. The inside of the shoe is stamped with her motto: “be kind, be calm and be safe.” Proceeds from the pre-sales will be donated to Food Banks BC and support those financially impacted by COVID-19. Small clothing businesses and individuals have also begun making reusable masks for sale and donation.

Businesses have pivoted swiftly to address supply concerns and keep their businesses and staff operating in ways that align with federal and provincial safety measures. Many restaurants and other food service industries have switched to take-out and delivery options. Distilleries are producing sanitizers, textiles companies are making respirators and athletics companies are making masks and ventilators. The list of B.C. businesses that are shifting operations to address the challenges of the pandemic continues to grow.

Supply Chains Keep B.C. Afloat

The ports, railways, trucking association and other supply chain industries implemented measures to keep the supply chain safe and active. Adhering to guidance from Transport Canada, B.C.’s ports are following strict protocols to protect the marine community and supply chain. The Port of Vancouver has activated an internal task force to ensure appropriate safety measures and continuity of business operations. The Ports at Prince Rupert and Nanaimo are also implementing health and safety protocols.

The B.C. Trucking Association is also taking measures to ensure the safety of its workers and local businesses along trucking routes are making it possible for supply chain staff to secure essential services along the way.

Railways in the province, including VIA Rail and Southern Railway, are reducing routes to abide by travel guidelines and social distancing measures while prioritizing supply chain routes. CN Rail has deployed a strategy as well.

The combined measures have been so successful that British Columbia is reopening the economy in a phased approach.

These are just a few of the examples of innovation, adaptability and community-mindedness that have emerged in the face of this crisis. There are many more. Follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter for regular updates and to share good news stories and developments in your community. Learn more about the sector advantages from our YouTube channel.