On this page: Updates for BC | Cana­di­an Prep­ping and Resources | Pan­dem­ic DIY Projects | COVID-19 Sci­ence

Last update: 2021 May 10

Updates for British Columbia

As of May 11, every­one age 40 or old­er, any­one extreme­ly clin­i­cal­ly vul­ner­a­ble, and any­one age 16+ who is preg­nant is able to reg­is­ter for vac­ci­na­tion against COVID-19. Reg­is­tra­tion is avail­able online or by phone (link).

Pos­si­ble Infec­tion? Use the online self-assess­ment tool first (link). If you need test­ing, phone 811 to speak with a pub­lic health nurse. DO NOT vis­it any doc­tor’s office, walk-in clin­ic, or hos­pi­tal emer­gency room unless you have been specif­i­cal­ly instruct­ed to do so by a health­care pro­fes­sion­al from that facil­i­ty. Always call ahead. COVID-19 requires spe­cial han­dling and con­tain­ment protocols!

Trav­el Orders (advi­so­ry link, orig­i­nal doc­u­ment link): non-essen­tial and recre­ation­al trav­el are both cur­rent­ly pro­hib­it­ed, includ­ing cer­tain kinds of trav­el between health author­i­ty regions (map of regions PDF link). Please refer to the linked resources for more infor­ma­tion. This order is set to expire 2021 May 25 at mid­night unless COVID-19 case­load trends require fur­ther extensions.

A 14-day quar­an­tine applies to all per­sons return­ing to BC (link). Iso­la­tion plans can be sub­mit­ted elec­tron­i­cal­ly via the Trav­el Screen­ing site (link), or print­ed and filed man­u­al­ly (link). More broad­ly, the Cana­da-US bor­der remains closed to cer­tain kinds of non-essen­tial traf­fic (link). Flights from India and Pak­istan have also been sus­pend­ed (link).

Provin­cial Health Orders (link): masks are cur­rent­ly required for all indoor pub­lic spaces (link), and gath­er­ings are lim­it­ed to 10 peo­ple in out­door set­tings only. Oth­er­wise, every­one is direct­ed to lim­it con­tact to a ‘core bub­ble’ of no more than two people.

COVID-19 Dash­board (link): this inter­ac­tive map illus­trates BC’s COVID-19 case­load data and breaks the infor­ma­tion down by region­al health authority.

BC Fer­ries Sta­tus (link): masks and social dis­tanc­ing require­ments remain in place, and COVID-19 screen­ings are manda­to­ry for any routes over 30 min­utes. Non-essen­tial trav­el is pro­hib­it­ed. Updat­ed sail­ing sched­ules can be found at the main BC Fer­ries web­site (link).

Pub­lic Tran­sit Sta­tus (link for BC Tran­sit, link for TransLink): nor­mal fare col­lec­tion remains in effect, along­side of reduced pas­sen­ger capac­i­ty and oth­er mea­sures (eti­quette guide link). Masks are required to board and ride tran­sit vehi­cles. Rid­ers may expe­ri­ence pass-ups dur­ing busy hours after vehi­cles reach max capac­i­ty. To avoid miss­ing a trip, try to plan two bus­es ahead of your antic­i­pat­ed board­ing time. If trav­el­ing with a bicy­cle, check with your dri­ver on how to pro­ceed. Some dri­vers are OK with front-only load/entry and exit/unload, where­as oth­ers pre­fer the eti­quette guide­line for sin­gle-direc­tion foot traf­fic. When in doubt, ask which method they prefer.

Real-time track­ing is avail­able on the BC Tran­sit web­site (link). Open the site, select your local tran­sit sys­tem, click Nex­tRide, and pick the route you want. Map lag time (the dif­fer­ence between a vehi­cle’s phys­i­cal loca­tion and its loca­tion on the map) ranges from approx­i­mate­ly 5 to 30 seconds.

Provin­cial COVID-19 Response Plan (link): this out­lines the specifics of BC’s broad­er emer­gency relief efforts includ­ing social plan­ning, reopen­ing the econ­o­my, and spe­cial access to resources.

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Canadian Pandemic Prepping and Resources

As a glob­al emer­gency, COVID-19 will con­tin­ue to cause dis­rup­tions and sup­ply shocks. Expect prod­uct short­ages, rationing, and price fluc­tu­a­tions. PPE and oth­er mis­sion-crit­i­cal items may remain unavail­able through your usu­al dis­tri­b­u­tion chan­nels. The time to update your emer­gency plan is now.

1. Finan­cial Plan: your top pri­or­i­ty should be mak­ing sure basic needs are cov­ered, and that there’s at least a 3- to 6‑month buffer in between you and the pan­dem­ic in case of job loss. If you can allo­cate more, do so. If your job is not yet at risk, con­sult your employ­er and see what updates they’ve made to their pan­dem­ic plan. Once you obtain the resources to accom­mo­date those guide­lines, it’s time to focus on house­hold bud­get­ing and sav­ings. The worst time to do any­thing is after an ROE drops. Build as much finan­cial resilience into your plan as possible.

If you’ve been laid off or had your hours reduced due to COVID-19, you may be eli­gi­ble for Employ­ment Insur­ance (link) or the new post-CERB tran­si­tion ben­e­fits (link). Addi­tion­al pro­grams may be avail­able at the provin­cial lev­el for BC (link), AB (link), SK (link), MB (link), ON (link), QC (link), NB (link), NS (link), NL (link), PE (link), YT (link), NT (link), and NU (link). Always ver­i­fy your eli­gi­bil­i­ty and con­firm the tax sit­u­a­tion before applying.

For Cana­di­an mort­gage hold­ers, the CMHC is still allow­ing defer­rals (link) and insti­tu­tion spe­cif­ic ini­tia­tives exist at CIBC (link), TD (link), RBC (link), and Sco­tia (link). Oth­er finan­cial insti­tu­tions may also have addi­tion­al options, your best bet is to call around.

A key pri­or­i­ty should be min­i­miz­ing lia­bil­i­ties and prun­ing down dis­cre­tionary spend­ing in order to cre­ate a sav­ings. If you haven’t already done so, get a TFSA (link) or oth­er spe­cial­ized account at your finan­cial insti­tu­tion to dump the mon­ey into. Next, reduce your lia­bil­i­ties: pay off cred­it cards, get rid of friv­o­lous month­ly sub­scrip­tions, and reassess any major assets or stu­dent loans you’re pay­ing down.

Last but not least, con­tact your cred­i­tors and find out what their emer­gency poli­cies look like. Even if you’re doing well and mak­ing all your pay­ments on time, it’s good to know what your back­up plan looks like in case things take a sour turn. With COVID-19 and the polit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion in the US poten­tial­ly threat­en­ing the glob­al finan­cial and real estate mar­kets, we real­ly don’t have a good idea of what the next cou­ple of years might look like, so it’s espe­cial­ly impor­tant to have flex­i­bil­i­ty built into your finan­cial planning.

2. Home Readi­ness: con­tact util­i­ty providers to re-eval­u­ate your pric­ing and needs. Off-peak elec­tric­i­ty dis­counts and ener­gy self-assess­ments can often be help­ful. Com­par­i­son shop for Inter­net pack­ages (you’ll be sur­prised by how much the big ISPs are over­charg­ing). Fin­ish ener­gy-sav­ing repairs, but avoid major ren­o­va­tions unless absolute­ly nec­es­sary. Make sure your home is well main­tained and ade­quate­ly insu­lat­ed. Last but not least, if you have a sep­tic field or water well, make sure it’s work­ing prop­er­ly and keep the con­tact details of at least two ser­vice com­pa­nies on hand at all times. Tech­ni­cians and trades have become more dif­fi­cult to access due to the pan­dem­ic. Know your pric­ing and be aware of the local busi­ness ecosystem.

Don’t for­get to beef up secu­ri­ty (link). The dis­rup­tions of the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic have led to changes in crime dynam­ics, includ­ing a spike in prop­er­ty crimes as well as few­er police offi­cers avail­able to respond to calls due to wide-rang­ing work­force infec­tions in many juris­dic­tions. Do your part to respon­si­bly address your secu­ri­ty needs and pre­vent crime, it helps our first responders.

3. Sup­plies: your next goal should be to estab­lish at least a one-month stock of food, water, med­i­cine, and house­hold sup­plies. It’s best to aim for a three-month stock or bet­ter if your sit­u­a­tion allows, but any­thing is bet­ter than noth­ing. The idea is to sur­vive com­fort­ably with zero trips to the gro­cery store (and zero peo­ple leav­ing the home) for as long as the sup­plies last. If you’re not sure what to pack, here’s a basic guide for food (link) and here’s one for water (link).

Keep in mind that shelf life varies wide­ly by prod­uct, method(s) of preser­va­tion employed, and stor­age con­di­tions (link). Canned goods gen­er­al­ly fare well over longer peri­ods of time, as do vac­u­um-packed dry goods. Do your research before going shop­ping, and be pre­pared to tweak some of your plan­ning and pur­chas­es as you go. Often times, you’ll encounter options you had­n’t con­sid­ered when you first start­ed out.

Shelf life resources such as Still­Tasty (link) and Eat­By­Date (link) are use­ful for get­ting a rough idea of prod­uct life for meal plan­ning. If in doubt, fol­low the date that’s print­ed on the pack­ag­ing of the prod­ucts you buy, and remem­ber to con­duct reg­u­lar stock rota­tion as well as fol­low the prin­ci­ple of FIFO (first in, first out). The old­est items in your stock should be con­sumed first, and you should nev­er use any­thing that’s reached expiry or is show­ing signs of spoilage.

A final word about pantry prep­ping: this is one of those skills that takes prac­tice to get right, and the ‘set­tling-in peri­od’ to get used to this kind of rou­tine is usu­al­ly a few months. You can make the process eas­i­er and reduce acci­den­tal waste by keep­ing check­lists of your stocked items and the dates they expire.

And no, you don’t need 600 rolls of toi­let paper. Please leave some for the rest of us, and remem­ber that the sourc­ing is 100% domes­tic so we’re not in any dan­ger of run­ning out.

4. First Aid: your oth­er mis­sion crit­i­cal item is a well-stocked first aid kit and the skills required to use it. You can find the BC provin­cial stan­dard­ized sup­ply check­list here (link). Don’t for­get to seek out appro­pri­ate first aid train­ing through your local Red Cross (link) or St. John Ambu­lance (link).

5. Online Shop­ping: buy­ing stuff on the Inter­net has become more preva­lent in the wake of COVID-19. One very effec­tive way to man­age online pur­chas­es is to set up a sin­gle low-lim­it cred­it card as the pay­ment method for the e‑commerce sites you’re using, then man­u­al­ly pay off the card bal­ances using a bank account from a dif­fer­ent finan­cial insti­tu­tion. The ben­e­fit is three­fold: first, using a cred­it card instead of a deb­it card gen­er­al­ly pro­vides supe­ri­or fraud pro­tec­tion; sec­ond, keep­ing your cred­it card account sep­a­rate and insu­lat­ed from your bank account adds an extra lev­el of secu­ri­ty in case the cred­it card account ever gets breached. Third and last, most cred­it card issuers will offer cash­back bonus­es, pur­chase pro­tec­tion, extend­ed war­ranties, and oth­er fea­tures that can be tai­lored to ben­e­fit your buy­ing habits over the long run. Use them.

As with any­thing cred­it card relat­ed, the usu­al two caveats apply: nev­er car­ry a bal­ance past the grace peri­od, and nev­er use auto­mat­ed trans­ac­tions. There’s much to be said in favour of stay­ing in good stand­ing and keep­ing man­u­al con­trol of where the mon­ey goes.

As for the deliv­ery side of things, COVID-19 has notice­ably reshaped our mail ser­vice. Masks are manda­to­ry at the post office, par­cel traf­fic is way up, and car­ri­ers will like­ly fol­low the guide­lines of ‘drop, knock, run’ apart from a few spe­cif­ic excep­tions (link). A lot of orders, par­tic­u­lar­ly Ama­zon ones, are being pho­tographed at the des­ti­na­tion in order to demon­strate proof of deliv­ery. If you’re just start­ing out, be aware of this. Like­wise, if your home does­n’t have a safe cov­ered area to receive parcels or the entry area is too dif­fi­cult for car­ri­ers to find, con­sid­er rent­ing a post office box instead — the peace of mind is worth it.

6. Fur­ther Read­ing: for those who are inter­est­ed in build­ing out their emer­gency prepa­ra­tions and equip­ment, or even if you’re new to all of this, a lot of decent qual­i­ty, no-non­sense resources can be found over at The Pre­pared (link).

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Pandemic DIY Projects

Sew and No-Sew Mask Pat­terns (link): instruc­tions for mak­ing your own masks. Be sure to fol­low the enclosed guide­lines on mate­r­i­al selec­tion, as spe­cif­ic fab­rics work bet­ter for par­tic­u­late cap­ture than others.

Every­Mask (link), Fix the Mask (link): both of these resources deal with improv­ing the safe­ty pro­files of rec­tan­gu­lar masks by more effec­tive­ly seal­ing the mask to the face using flex­i­ble mate­ri­als and a stur­dier nose bridge.

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COVID-19 Science

Canada’s Office of the Chief Sci­ence Advi­sor (link): a page list­ing ongo­ing nation­al ini­tia­tives on han­dling COVID-19.

BC Cen­tre for Dis­ease Con­trol (link): a page for provin­cial epi­demi­ol­o­gy, sit­u­a­tion reports, data down­loads, and oth­er use­ful resources.

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