Val Litwin is CEO of the BC Chamber

Today Premier Horgan laid out how BC’s economy will safely reopen, a move welcomed by BC’s business community.

While health and safety restrictions will mean a radically different operating environment, businesses from every sector are ready to do their part.

“We know the path to recovery will be long and steep and for some sectors it will take longer than others,” says Val Litwin, CEO of the BC Chamber, “but today’s news is the proverbial ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ that many small businesses operators have been waiting for.”

“We shouldn’t interpret today’s announcements as news that the pandemic is behind us: our members know that the health and safety of their teams and customers will be the first priority in this new operating environment,” says Litwin. “Businesses will need to adjust their operating best practices to meet the guidance of the Provincial Health Officer and WorkSafeBC —and our network of 125 local chambers across BC stands ready to support businesses on this journey.”

Today the Province announced three key areas of focus for businesses and citizens as they move toward reopening and recovery, including guidelines pertaining to:

  • Personal self care (e.g. no handshaking, diligent handwashing and good hygiene)
  • Managing social interactions (e.g. if you gather only do so in small groups)
  • Implementing safe practices in organizations and public institutions (e.g.  Ensuring social settings (kitchens, staff rooms) maintain best practice in terms of social distance)

Businesses are being asked to pay special attention to “contact intensity” and to adopt a zero-tolerance policy around team members entering the workplace if they exhibit any symptoms of cold, flu or Covid-19, including coughing and sneezing, In addition to general guidelines for workplaces, the province also unveiled additional guidelines for retail stores, personal services, day cares, schools, and for the sports and recreation sector.

In the days ahead businesses must develop explicit plans around the measures they will implement and maintain over the next 12-18 months. New guidelines unveiled today shed light what “new normal” will look like for operations until health officials and the province lift the public emergency requirements.

“As the Premier mentioned this afternoon, if people don’t feel safe in businesses, they simply won’t come. Our network is committed to working with businesses across BC to ensure they are supported in this new operating environment so that they can stay open for the long-term,” Litwin says. “We will also continue to advocate for business as they navigate this new phase because we know they are still struggling and cashflow is tight.”

“But BC is in an enviable position as it looks to recovery, and we applaud our provincial government for getting us to this point. BC’s didn’t shut down the whole economy like other jurisdictions, so we have a chance to get moving quickly and safely,” says Litwin.

The BC Chamber also thanks Premier Horgan for his leadership in stating in no uncertain terms that “there is no place for hate in British Columbia.”  The BC Chamber network is committed to modeling compassionate behaviour and respectful communications in order to foster a business culture in British Columbia that is safe and open to everyone.

bcchamber.org