The Surrey Board of Trade CEO says although there is a supply chain “crisis,” everyone needs to work together “to make sure that we’re helping our neighbours.”
Following the atmospheric river last weekend, and record-setting rainfall and flooding, grocery store shelves have been emptying out throughout the province.
Then Friday (Nov. 19), B.C.’s Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth put two new provincial orders in place amid concerns of gas shortages in the province. He announced that non-essential travel will be restricted on all highways impacted by washouts and the public will be limited to purchasing 30 litres of fuel per visit to gas stations in southwest B.C., Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast.
In the hours that followed, some gas stations in Surrey had lineups on the surrounding streets as people rushed to fill up. Some images on social media show people filling up multiple jerry cans.
Anita Huberman, CEO with the Surrey Board of Trade, said “it’s unfortunate that some people have decided to take more groceries, to take more gas. In the supply-chain line there is enough for all of us, we just have to make sure that we’re not hoarding.”
She added there are some people who are living paycheque to paycheque and can’t afford to buy in bulk.
“If there’s nothing left for them, we really have to step up the humanity in terms of supporting each other and do the right thing as the B.C. government has indicated.”
This “hoarding mentality,” she said, could be related to all of the uncertainty people have faced in the last two years.
“I think the mentality, as we saw during the pandemic, is when we get these announcements from the B.C. government, some people go into crisis mode and they feel that they have to get these equipments, these supplies in order to be able to survive because they don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring.”
But, Huberman noted, we are in a “supply-chain crisis, globally” and it’s going to have “downstream effects to businesses in terms of receipt of goods, in terms of inflationary prices, in terms of cost of living increases.”
She said economists are saying this crisis could be “levelled mid-summer next year or even as far as 2023.”
Talking with the Surrey Board of Trade industry committee earlier this week about what can be done for support, Huberman said “there is no easy solution because we are being faced with unexpected weather disasters.”
“We don’t know what next week is going to bring, we don’t know what next month is going to bring, we don’t know what next year is going to bring. It’s so hard for businesses to plan for the short-term and long-term in the event of all of these uncertainties.”
When it comes to crossing the border, there is some good news with the federal government announcing this week that PCR tests wouldn’t be required coming back into Canada after trips shorter than 72 hours. That will take effect Nov. 30.
“Maybe if things do get dire that Nov. 30 date will be moved up, so that those that are on the border here in British Columbia can go across the border to get goods,” Huberman said.
But a release from the board on Friday says the required testing should be removed fully.
“I think everyone needs to realize that we rely on each other, whether it’s in the United States or in Canada, especially these border communities.”