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Still good to go for alcohol delivery
Rob Gibson - 8:00 am - BC Biz

Photo: Contributed
Brian Atkinson behind the bar at Jacks’s Pizza & Liquor.

If you’ve been enjoying getting your liquor from the same place you order your food from, you’re in luck.

The B.C. government is extending the temporary authorization that permits food-primary and liquor-primary licensees to sell and deliver sealed, packaged liquor products alongside the purchase of a meal for off-site consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The adjustment was set to expire July 15, 2020, but will now remain in place until Oct. 31, 2020. A news release from the Ministry of Attorney General indicates, “extending the temporary authorization will provide businesses with continued relief from the financial hardship of the pandemic and help make it easier for vulnerable British Columbians to continue observing physical distancing guidelines.”

Before the temporary measure was introduced, restaurants and pubs were only allowed to sell liquor for consumption in their establishments.

The Province is also extending the hours of service for retail liquor outlets in order to provide greater opportunities for physical distancing.

Liquor retailers, are now allowed to temporarily operate between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. daily until the end of August 2020.

COVID warning on YLW-YVR flight
Jon Manchester - Jul 13, 2020 - BC Biz

Photo: The Canadian Press

The BC Centre for Disease Control is warning passengers on a recent flight from Kelowna of possible COVID-19 exposure.

The BCCDC is asking passengers on the July 6 Air Canada flight 8421 from Kelowna to Vancouver to monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms for 14 days.

The seats which could have been exposed were not detailed.

This follows eight positive COVID cases in Kelowna linked to visitors to the city between June 25 and July 9.

The cases involved people who live in three regions of the province, including the Interior, Fraser and Vancouver Coastal Health regions.

Public health contact tracing is underway, and the Interior Health authority says it is reaching out directly to anyone who has been exposed, where possible.

The BCCDC has issued warnings over nine domestic flights since the beginning of May, including a May 5 flight from Calgary to Kelowna. Seven international flights into Vancouver also prompted warnings.

Testing is recommended for anyone with symptoms including fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, or a loss of taste or smell.

“Milder symptoms may include runny nose, fatigue, body aches … diarrhea, headache, sore throat, vomiting and red eyes,” says IH.

Anyone with even mild symptoms is urged to stay home and avoid travel.

Kelowna businesses tied to COVID
The Canadian Press - Jul 13, 2020 - BC Biz

Photo: Contributed

Health officials are monitoring several cases of COVID-19 exposure in Kelowna and say they’ve identified two more locations where people may have contracted the respiratory illness.

Interior Health says in a statement issued Sunday that a restaurant and spin studio have been added to the resort and a bed and breakfast identified on Friday in an advisory about the Okanagan outbreak.

An email from the health authority says eight positive tests for the virus are linked to visits to downtown Kelowna and the city’s waterfront between June 25 and July 9.

Visitors to the Boyce Gyro Beach Lodge on July 1 or the Discovery Bay Resort from July 1 to July 5 were advised Friday to self-isolate and monitor themselves closely for symptoms.

The health authority is now urging visitors to Kelowna’s Cactus Club restaurant on Water Street between July 3 and July 6, or the Pace Spin Studio on July 2, 4, 5, 7, 8 and 9 to self-monitor and get tested if COVID-19 symptoms appear.

Public health contact tracing is underway, and the health authority says, it is reaching out directly, where possible, to anyone who has been exposed.

Testing is recommended for anyone with novel coronavirus symptoms, including fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, or a loss of taste or smell, says the statement from Interior Health.

“Milder symptoms may include runny nose, fatigue, body aches … diarrhea, headache, sore throat, vomiting and red eyes,” says the statement.

Anyone with even mild symptoms is urged to stay home and avoid travel.

Efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 include physical distancing, washing hands regularly, not touching the face and avoiding gatherings of more than 50 people, the health authority says.

Heartbreak hotel: 43,500 laid off
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jul 10, 2020 - BC Biz

Photo: Contributed

More than 43,500 employees in the B.C. hotel industry remain laid off, according to the latest survey of B.C. Hotel Association members.

And respondents say the federal CERB is not helping efforts to recall employees.

Ingrid Jarrett, President and CEO of the B.C. Hotel Association, told members the latest industry survey offered “a sobering look at the state of the accommodation sector now and into the foreseeable future.”

Survey results help the association detail the current state of the industry to government and identify advocacy priorities, she said.

“In the survey some of you outlined that CERB payments have made recalling employees increasingly difficult,” she said. “Labour issues and the employee-employer relationship will continue to take centre-stage in conversations surrounding recovery, especially as the temporary layoff provision deadline draws near.”

The survey found Downtown Vancouver is sitting at the lowest occupancy in the province with Interior B.C. and Vancouver Island having better levels due to resort destination demand.

The main focus areas for the association’s advocacy efforts are on extending the 75% wage subsidy, getting property tax relief, extending the 16-week temporary layoff period after Aug. 30 and securing additional business loan.

“Ultimately, we need B.C. tourism and our economy at large to recover, and our phones to ring to rediscover a much-desired sense of normalcy across our industry,” said Jarrett.

“We are focused on economic recovery which will take consumer confidence, clear messaging and travel demand. We strive to reach a place where employers have sufficient staff who feel protected and secure in their positions. We also aim to reach a place where the employee-employer relationship is fostered once again.”

‘Appalling’ customers turned away
Contributed - Jul 10, 2020 - BC Biz

Photo: The West End Journal

“Unacceptable.” Home Hardware’s sign is bold and direct: Employees will be treated with respect or customers can find another place to shop.

Canada-wide, a number of the chain’s stores have used this brand of signage to deter unruly guests from mistreating staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“At the start of the pandemic, people were self-isolating and feeling uncertain about other people,” notes Jeffery Ho, owner of three Vancouver Home Hardware stores. “A number of them were aggressive, rude and obnoxious.”

While Ho supports the signs, he says they were actually created in Home Hardware’s head office and implemented across the country.

“We just try to remind people to be patient, and to be respectful of each other,” he explains.

In one instance, Ho says a woman began crying and shouting while he tried to help sort out her Aeroplan miles.

“My system was broken, which I tried to explain to her, but she wasn’t listening,” he adds.

On Facebook, The West End Journal shared a picture of the sign at the Home Hardware on Davie Street, remarking that “This is a problem many local merchants are dealing with every day, and there is no excuse folks. Stay calm, and be kind. How hard is that?”

— Elana Shepert/Vancouver is Awesome

B.C. jobs surprise
Contributed - Jul 10, 2020 - BC Biz

Photo: BC Gov’t

What happened: Province adds 118,100 jobs last month

Why it matters: The big gains come as B.C. moves into next phase of economic restart plan

B.C. added 118,100 jobs in June as the province made its initial move into Phase 3 of its economic restart plan.

Data released Friday (July 10) from Statistics Canada reveals the province’s unemployment rate now stands at an even 13%, down from the 13.4% recorded a month earlier.

In Metro Vancouver, however, the unemployment rate grew 1 percentage point to 14.2% between May and June.

Canada added 953,000 jobs while unemployment dropped 1.4 percentage points to 12.3%.

The province’s biggest surge unfolded in the accommodation and food services sector, which added 54,800 jobs last month as restaurants opened and British Columbians began travelling throughout the province once again.

Other significant gains were witnessed in the professional, scientific and technical services sector (+17,600 jobs), wholesale and retail trade (+16,100 jobs), and health care and social assistance (+9,800 jobs).

Manufacturing, meanwhile, posted 6,800 job losses.

“From pre-virus levels, Ontario is still the laggard, with Alberta and B.C. next,” BMO chief economist Douglas Porter said in a note to investors.

“On the flip side, provinces that were less affected by the virus have not surprisingly moved closer to normal levels, with New Brunswick, Manitoba and Saskatchewan leading.”

He said the latest data shows a “solid second step on the road to recovery” but cautioned there is still a long way to go.

Porter expects gains in July numbers but added “after this initial, mechanical bounce, the next stages are likely to be much slower going.”

TD senior economist Brian DePratto said the June numbers indicate another step in the right direction.

“There remains a long road ahead to regain the roughly 3 million jobs lost as a result of the pandemic, but the pace so far has defied expectations,” he said in a note to investors.

“This may be telling us that Canadians are becoming a bit more confident from a health perspective – recall that at the height of the pandemic, there was a massive increase in people who had stopped looking for work entirely. The generally improving new infection numbers provide hope that the labour market healing can continue.”

Similar to Porter, DePratto questioned the sustainability of the pace in job gains.

“There is the risk that what we’ve seen so far has been the ‘low-hanging fruit’ as operations that are able to safely re-open have done so,” DePratto said.

“The pattern of gains will likely vary in the coming months as well. International travel restrictions are likely to remain in place for some time, with implications for those that tend to serve domestic versus international tourists, for instance.”

B.C. market on shaky ground
The Canadian Press - Jul 07, 2020 - BC Biz

File photo: The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER — A new forecast says the housing market in B.C. remains uncertain during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Central 1 says it expects home sales to recover marginally in 2020 and 2021 after tumbling by 55% between mid-March and April.

Deputy chief economist Brian Yu says despite values plunging to levels not seen since the early 1980s, home prices have stayed firm because fewer properties were available for sale.

He predicts median prices could rebound to about $710,000 before slipping to around $540,000 late this year or early in 2021.

Yu says unemployment, business and health concerns will further weaken the market, while population growth, which has traditionally propped up the sector in B.C., will slow to a trickle next year, dampening sales.

He says a second wave of COVID-19 has the potential to shave home prices by 15% as more owners already hit by the pandemic’s first wave are forced to sell during a second downturn.

The report released Tuesday notes positive developments as B.C. enters the third phase of its recovery plan, including restarts in the accommodation, spa, film and television industries.

Vacancy rates could also climb as high as 3% over the next year, writes Yu, “providing an opportune time for renters to negotiate rental rates before the market tightens up again.”

Housing starts are forecast to slump 33% in 2020 and remain flat in 2021, which “set the stage for a housing supply shortage in coming years,” the report says.

The timing of a second wave and its impact on the economy would draw out the effect on the housing market, potentially carrying into 2022, it says.

Central 1 Credit Union operates across Canada, partnering with financial, digital banking and payment products and services to support credit unions and their clients.

Trans Mountain appeal denied
The Canadian Press - Jul 02, 2020 - BC Biz

Photo: The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — The Supreme Court of Canada will not hear a new appeal from British Columbia First Nations over the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

The court on Thursday dismissed the appeal from the Squamish Nation, Tsleil-Waututh Nation, the Ts’elxwéyeqw Tribes and Coldwater Indian Band, effectively ending the years-long legal battle over the project.

As is customary, the court did not give reasons for its decision.

First Nations leaders planned a news conference later in the day to respond to the court’s decision.

Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan said the government had worked hard to hear and accommodate concerns the communities have with the project and welcomed the court’s decision.

“The government approved TMX because it is an important project for Canada,” he said in a statement.

“Construction of TMX is underway and has already created more than 4,900 good, well-paying jobs, will help us gain access to new markets for our resources and generate revenue to help fund clean energy and climate change solutions.”

He acknowledged there are people who will be disappointed with dismissal and said the government will continue to engage with them about the project “in the spirit of partnership, to make sure we get this right.”

The Trans Mountain project was first approved in 2016, but stopped by the Federal Court of Appeal two years later after First Nations and environmental groups successfully argued the approval process was flawed.

Ottawa approved the project a second time in June 2019 after additional consultation with the affected communities. The bands still felt the government did not fulfil its duty to consult and again appealed the decision.

The Federal Court of Appeal ruled in February the approval would stand, saying the government made a genuine effort to hear and accommodate concerns raised. The First Nations disagreed and asked the Supreme Court to hear the case.

The bands still have outstanding concerns about the impact the pipeline could have on drinking water and marine life—particularly the highly endangered Southern Resident killer whales—off the B.C. coast.

Thursday’s decision would appear to be the end of the road for legal arguments aimed at stopping construction on the pipeline.

Province extends layoff deadline
The Canadian Press - Jun 25, 2020 - BC Biz

Photo: Contributed
B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains has extended the layoff provision until the end of August.

VICTORIA — The B.C. government says it is extending temporary layoff provisions until the end of August, giving employers and workers more flexibility to support economic recovery during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Labour Minister Harry Bains says the extension to a maximum of 24 weeks allows employers and employees to work out agreements during the pandemic while still protecting a worker’s right to receive severance pay.

The government extended the period to 16 weeks last month, but employers and the Opposition Liberals were calling for a further extension to help businesses facing bankruptcy and to align with the federal Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

Bains says the government heard from employers that the extension was needed.

He says it’s important to make sure that workers know they have to be involved in the agreement with their employer to extend the temporary layoff and have a right to decline the layoff and accept compensation.

Opposition Liberal labour critic John Martin says if the extension was not granted thousands of people would have lost their jobs and many businesses would have gone bankrupt.

LifeLabs has knuckles rapped
The Canadian Press - Jun 25, 2020 - BC Biz

Photo: CTV News

VICTORIA — A joint investigation by the privacy commissioners of Ontario and B.C. says LifeLabs failed to put in place reasonable safeguards to protect the personal health information of millions of Canadians.

A statement released Thursday by the commissioners says the breach last year at LifeLabs, one of Canada’s largest medical services companies, broke Ontario’s health privacy law and B.C.’s personal information protection law.

The joint investigation found LifeLabs collected more personal health information than was necessary, failed to protect that data in its electronic systems and relied on inadequate information technology security policies.

Both offices have ordered LifeLabs to address the shortcomings through measures that include improving its security systems and creating written policies and practices regarding information technology security.

LifeLabs revealed last November that hackers gained access to the personal information of up to 15 million customers, almost all in Ontario and B.C., and that the company was forced to pay a ransom to retrieve and secure the data.

The breach was determined to have affected millions of Canadians, and the privacy commissioners announced their joint investigation in mid-December.

Ontario commissioner Brian Beamish says the breach should serve as a reminder to organizations, big and small, that they have a duty to be vigilant against these types of attacks.

“I look forward to providing the public, and particularly those who were affected by the breach, with the full details of our investigation,” Beamish says in the statement.

B.C. information and privacy commissioner Michael McEvoy said the failure by LifeLabs to properly protect the personal health information is unacceptable.

“LifeLabs exposed British Columbians, along with millions of other Canadians, to potential identity theft, financial loss and reputational harm. The orders made are aimed at making sure this doesn’t happen again.”

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