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B.C. business leaders form COVID-19 Cabinet to deal with pandemic

Last Updated Mar 18, 2020 at 7:20 pm PDT

Anita Huberman, Surrey Board of Trade (Courtesy: SBT)
Summary

Anita Huberman is the CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade and says this is an unprecedented, and emotional time for many

A new 'COVID Cabinet' has been created to help address what are already significant impacts to the provincial economy

The cabinet includes more than 30 business organizations across the province, including the Business Council of B.C.

SURREY (NEWS 1130) – Business leaders across the province are coming together to figure out solutions for their communities, many that are reeling during this global pandemic.

Anita Huberman is CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade.

She says the COVID-19 Cabinet, which includes more than 30 businesses, has been created to address the ‘significant impacts on our economy in these unprecedented times’.

“The COVID-19 cabinet is a collaboration of a variety of different organizations from the business, labor, industrial and development sectors, including the B.C. Chamber of Commerce Business Council of B.C, Vancouver Board of Trade, you name it, it’s on there,” she says. “And it’s about collaboration of ideas. understanding what’s happening at Ground Zero. Many of us have invoked Ground Zero protocol in terms of calling each business, calling each of our members to see what issues they’re facing, what policies need to be enacted by the provincial and federal government. Many of us, many of our organizations have already spoken to different levels of government in terms of economic stimulus ideas to really instigate cash flow, and to help employees.”

Huberman, who has been with the Surrey Board of Trade for 26 years, says she’s never seen a situation like this.

“Since 6 am this morning, and even last night, I was getting calls from manufacturers, from different factories, retailers, developers, saying Whereas the support for my staff, I’m going to have to lay staff off, I don’t have money for rent, I can’t make my lease payment. I can’t make my property tax payments,” Huberman explains. “My major trading hub by China, the US, Europe all closed, what am I going to do? What are the supports? So I mean, it’s ongoing, and I’m doing absolutely everything I can, as are all of these organizations in British Columbia, supporting their members to get them to the right connection to government or other stakeholders.”

While the Cabinet will be meeting in the future to share information, and advocate on behalf of the BC Business community, Huberman says it’s a tough blow to the community, and will take time to recover.

“Well, business is the heart of a community. It drives business. It drives jobs. They give back To the community, they give back to our many service organizations who are also suffering as well. And absolutely, it’s emotional for me as a CEO, the Board of Trade for such a long time that our business community, their work forces are suffering. And again, we’re facing unprecedented challenges. And it’s going to require unprecedented decisions by all policymakers.”