“Government and society pulled together to do what needed to be done” when COVID-19 hit the province in early 2020, despite being unprepared for a province-wide emergency.
That’s the finding of an independent review of the province’s response to the pandemic, released December 2.
Report authors Bob de Faye, Dan Perrin and Chris Trumpy – all former senior public servants – reviewed a total of 15,000 submissions. Many were more negative than responses garnered by public opinion polls given that people were not selected at random but chose to participate.
The report also drew on interviews with more than 200 people representing about 145 organizations.
No farm organizations participated, though the sector benefited from a several initiatives, including a generous provincially funded quarantine program delivered by the BC Ministry of Agriculture and Food hailed as an example for other provinces.
The report did hear from individual farmers and ranchers, however, many of whom initially felt ignored by the Office of the Provincial Health Officer.
The report noted that many of those feeling ignored lacked pre-existing connections with government, such as delivering programs.
While the province set up sector roundtables to hear industry concerns, the report notes that there was often more talking than listening done.
“Some felt they were just being talked at and not engaged, largely depending on whether there was an opportunity to ask questions and raise issues at the table,” the report notes.
The report is short on references to the farm sector due to a lack of input but its 26 findings and recommendations identify “the need for the Ministry of Agriculture and Food to take on an enhanced food supply security focus in another essential goods supply chain implication.”
In February, Emergency Management BC is participating in Exercise Coastal Response, wherein logistics-related emergency response activities can be tested as a part of broader supply chain management.
Agriculture ministry staff did not have an immediate response to the report, and its participation in EMBC’s response exercise.