On March 12th, the World Health Organization (WHO) assessed COVID-19 as a pandemic, and on March 18th the Government of British Columbia declared a provincewide state of emergency. Both the Government of British Columbia and the Government of Canada have instituted measures for the protection of Canadians, including limiting travel and enacting quarantines for those who have recently arrived in Canada, prohibiting foreign nationals, including U.S. nationals, from entering Canada for non-essential travel, canceling events and gatherings, and practicing social distancing. MABC supports the actions taken by both the Government of British Columbia and the Government of Canada to protect Canadians and control the spread of COVID-19, and we continue to closely monitor developments, the government response and orders to protect public and worker health and safety relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. BC’s mining sector places a high priority on the health and safety of its workers, and we take our responsibility to protect our communities seriously. The global pandemic has pushed the global economy into crisis. Commodity prices have fallen dramatically. Access to markets for goods and services as well as our mineral products are being disrupted. The future is uncertain, and the economy will likely get worse before it gets better. In this extraordinary time, half-measures will avail us nothing: bold action is required to assist our mines to maintain their liquidity and cash flow to weather the growing storm and keep our workers and suppliers on the job and supporting their communities. The Mining Association of BC is working collaboratively with the Province of British Columbia on a series of fiscal and operational recommendations to protect both the health and safety of our workers and the economy. Guidance to Mines and Smelters On March 24 British Columbia’s Chief Inspector of Mines provided Guidance to mining and smelting operations outlining the requirements to protect the health and safety of workers at sites during the COVID‐19 pandemic. These include:
- Reducing the number of on-site personnel by encouraging work from home where feasible.
- Daily pre-shift safety meetings (toolbox meetings) affecting more than 50 people be held in smaller numbers or via other media, such as by phone or video conferencing.
- Avoid the use of in-person town-hall meetings larger than 50 people for the purpose of addressing the whole site. Communication should continue in smaller groups or via other means.
- There should be no more than 50 people in the same space in any circumstance. This includes common areas in bunkhouses and cafeterias.
To read all the guidelines, click here. Essential Services Designation On March 26 the Government of British Columbia released a list of businesses that are essential during the COVID-19 outbreak. Mining operations, production and processing are identified as essential businesses, as are mining supply and services:
- Businesses that ensure global continuity of supply of mining materials and products (e.g. metals such as copper, nickel and gold) and that support supply chains, including:
- Mining operations, production and processing
- Mineral exploration and development, including sand, gravel and aggregates
- Mining supply and services that support supply chains in the mining industry including maintenance of operations, health and safety
To read the full list of essential services, click here. Industrial Work Camp Guidelines On April 28th, the Provincial government provided guidelines for industrial work camps to keep workers safe in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The current guidelines, which will be updated as new information becomes available, include:
- Prevention measures and control in camps;
- Plans on how to manage individuals with suspected COVID-19 infection;
- Outbreak protocols;
- Support for camp residents who are self-isolating;
- Enacting physical distancing; and
- Ensuring sufficient infection-control supplies.
The full guidelines are available here. Support of Workers and Employers The Government of British Columbia and the Government of Canada have each announced economic and financial supports for workers and employers facing hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. To find a full list of supports available through the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, click here. To find a full list of provincial tax changes as part of the BC COVID-19 Action Plan, click here. Information on COVID-19 from health and government agencies. Government of Canada COVID-19 Outbreak Updates Province of British Columbia -COVID Provincial Response and Resources BC Centre for Disease Control COVID-19 COVID-19 BC Support App and Self-Assessment Tool HealthLinkBC COVID-19 Resources World Health Organization COVID-19 Government of BC Guidance provided to industrial camps during COVID-19 WorkSafeBC COVID-19 Resources Preventing exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace: A guide for employers