By: Brad Sampson

During World War II, Canadian’s banded together around the war effort. Existing factories were retooled to produce munitions, aircraft, and equipment to aid the allies. A similar effort is being made in the battle against COVID-19. In a press conference on March 20th, 2020, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the federal government was “…launching Canada’s plan to mobilize industry to fight COVID-19 to ensure that we can quickly produce the things we need”. The most urgently needed supplies during the pandemic include ventilators, disinfectants, and surgical masks.

Craft Distilleries were one of the first industries to retool amidst the pandemic. John from Okanagan Spirits explained, during the distillation process, the first liquid distilled from a batch has a very high alcohol content. Okanagan Spirits has begun producing a sanitizing solution from this by-product. The company has already produced one batch and has since donated it to first responders, medical practitioners, and care homes. The company is planning on producing additional batches that will be made available to the public in exchange for a donation to local non-profits.

Under normal circumstances, the production of alcohol-based disinfectants is closely monitored by BC’s Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch. However, on March 22nd, Attorney General David Eby authorized craft distilleries across the province to produce alcohol-based sanitizers. Eby suggested that “We are in unprecedented times,” and as such, the regulatory body will not be blocking the production or sale of these products. Lana Popham, the Minister of Agriculture, lauded the distilleries stating, “The flexibility shown by distillers to create much-needed hand sanitizing products demonstrates the leadership of BC’s agriculture sector and highlights the additional and unforeseen roles that BC’s food and beverage producers can play in an emergency response”.