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B.C. automotive association wants parts of industry declared an essential service during COVID-19

The Automotive Retailers Association, which says it represents more than 1,000 automotive businesses in B.C., wants to see the government declare parts of the industry an essential service.
The Automotive Retailers Association, which says it represents more than 1,000 automotive businesses in B.C., wants to see the government declare parts of the industry an essential service. The Associated Press

The Automotive Retailers Association says it’ll be asking the provincial government to declare parts of the automotive sector an essential service.

With businesses in B.C. being asked or told to close to help spread the limit of the novel coronavirus, the association says the automotive sector plays a critical role in the provincial economy.

Specifically, in a press release issued this week, the Automotive Retailers Association (ARA) said the industry “is critical for maintaining the flow of goods and services across the province and helping to keep B.C.’s roadways safe.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Automakers shut North American plants over COVID-19 fears

The parts that the association is asking government to be declared an essential service are automotive repair, towing, recovery and auto parts supply.

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The association said it represents more than 1,000 automotive businesses in B.C., which employ an estimated 50,000 British Columbians.

It also said that 91 per cent of survey respondents supported a declaration that the sector should be considered an essential service during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The press release noted that 52 per cent of those who responded to the survey are responsible for servicing emergency vehicles or other vehicles deemed essential by government.

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“The unprecedented COVID-19 health crisis will result in difficult decisions being made by government,” said the association. “This may include shutting down parts of our economy not deemed essential.

“However, as many of the services currently being deemed essential require a fleet of service vehicles — whether it be emergency vehicles, trucks transporting food and supplies, or towing and recovery services necessary to keep the roads clear — it is important that the automotive service sector also be considered essential to service and repair these vehicles when necessary.”

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The association said 70 per cent of businesses that responded to the survey are being affected by the pandemic.

“If this trend is to continue, there is the possibility that emergency and supply vehicles in need of servicing will not be able to have the necessary maintenance or repairs,” said the association.

“Furthermore, in order to keep these businesses open, assistance must be provided to help them keep afloat during the rough economic times ahead.”

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