Poultry processing and other agricultural workplaces are among sources of workplace exposure to COVID-19, along with fitness facilities, restaurants and others. (Abbotsford News)

Poultry processing and other agricultural workplaces are among sources of workplace exposure to COVID-19, along with fitness facilities, restaurants and others. (Abbotsford News)

B.C. begins looking for its own COVID-19 sick pay solution

Federal, provincial budgets didn’t add to quarantine program

The B.C. government is reluctantly seeking its own way of offering sick pay to more people who experience symptoms of COVID-19 but lose pay if they stay home.

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains said he was expecting the much-delayed April 19 federal budget to include provisions that B.C. and other provinces were looking for. Beyond a previously announced program to pay up to $500 a week for people who are directed to self-isolate, the measure wasn’t there, and B.C. tabled its own budget the next day.

“The federal government’s inaction is disappointing, so we are preparing for next steps by talking to our stakeholders to ensure that workers don’t have to choose a paycheque and going to work sick,” Bains told reporters at the B.C. legislature. “We have learned very dearly that’s the one way of stopping transmission of this pandemic at workplaces.”

The B.C. Federation of Labour estimates that more than half of B.C. workers, mostly in low-wage jobs, don’t qualify for sick pay today. Workplace outbreaks in B.C. have happened in poultry plants, nursery greenhouses

“In this time of deadly variants and rising cases, ensuring worker safety with paid sick leave is imperative,” federation president Laird Cronk said. “We will continue to advocate for the over half of B.C. workers, and nearly 90 per cent of low-wage workers, who don’t have paid leave and are at higher risk of exposure.”

RELATED: Big employers stepping up with COVID-19 sick pay

RELATED: B.C. businesses ‘can’t bear burden through WorkSafeBC’

As of April 12, B.C.’s public health orders include authority to close down businesses for 10 days if three or more employees contract COVID-19. As of Monday, Fraser Health listed more than 40 business closures, from retail stores to fast food outlets, fitness facilities and manufacturing. Locations for business closures include Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Langley, Surrey, Maple Ridge and Delta.

Bains said B.C. has moved to prevent people from losing their jobs if they have to take time off due to suspected COVID-19, and amending the Employment Standards Act to require paid time off for people who have to get vaccinated during working hours.

Bains credited Premier John Horgan with starting the sick pay discussion at first ministers’ meetings with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last year, resulting in the recent Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit that pays up to $500 per week for two weeks for people required to quarantine due to possible exposure

“There are gaps and we identified those gaps,” Bains said of the federal program.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureBC politicsCoronavirus

Just Posted

Gerry Thiessen, mayor of Vanderhoof shown talking to students on May 17. Thiessen and other members of council officially announced that the rainbow crosswalk will be a reality. They were ready to paint a few lines of of paint onto the crosswalk, but weather wasn’t suitable for it. District staff will be jumping onto the project as soon as the weather allows it. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
School District 91 holds first ‘Share the Love Day’

International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia recognized

Pictured above is a BCEHS re-enactment of paramedics attending an overdose. Toxic illicit drugs have claimed the lives of 498 British Columbians in the first three months of 2021, said the BC Coroners Service. (BCEHS photo)
Increase in overdose cases a concern: Fort St. James RCMP

Police issue public health announcement

A prowling coyote proved no match for a stray black cat who chased it out of a Port Moody parking lot Friday, May 14. (Twitter/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Little but fierce: Cat spotted chasing off coyote by Port Moody police

The black cat is seen jumping out from under a parked car and running the wild animal out of a vacant lot

A forest of dance-protesters outside the BC Legislature on April 11. These participants were doing the Dance for the Ancient Forest in support of the Fairy Creek blockade and against old-growth logging. (Zoë Ducklow/News Staff)
Arrests begin at Fairy Creek blockade on Vancouver Island

Five protesters arrested as RCMP begin to enforce injunction

A thunderstorm pictured in Fraser Valley in 2021. (Black Press Media/Jaimie Grafstrom)
Wildfire concerns sparked after 320+ lightning strikes blasted B.C. yesterday

Approximately one-quarter of the province is currently listed as being at moderate risk of fire

A restaurant server on White Rock’s Marine Drive serves customers on a roadside patio. Indoor dining and recreational travel bans have been in effect since late March in B.C. (Peace Arch News)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate falls to 411 cases Tuesday

360 people in hospital, up slightly, two more deaths

The Banff National Park entrance is shown in Banff, Alta., Tuesday, March 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Minister asks Canadians to camp carefully in national parks as season starts

Kitchen shelters in Banff National Park closed, trails on Vancouver Island will only be one-way

Names of those aboard the ship are seen at Komagata Maru monument in downtown Vancouver, on Tuesday, May 18, 2021. The City of Vancouver has issued an apology for its racist role in denying entry to 376 passengers aboard a ship that was forced to return to India over a century ago. Mayor Kennedy Stewart says discrimination by the city had “cruel effects” on the Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims aboard the Komagata Maru, which arrived in Burrard Inlet on May 23, 1914. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver mayor says sorry for city’s role in turning away South Asians in 1914

Kennedy Stewart has declared May 23 as the annual Komagata Maru Day of Remembrance

A crew of WestCoast WILD Adventures employees tackled an onslaught of litter left at the ‘Locks of Love’ fence at Wally Creek on May 2. (Anne-Marie Gosselin photo)
Litter woes consume popular ‘Locks of Love’ fence on B.C.’s Pacific Rim

Popular view spot near Tofino plagued by people hanging masks and other unwanted garbage

Vincent Doumeizel, senior advisor at the United Nations Global Compact on Oceans, as well as director for the Food Programme for the Lloyd’s Register Foundation, pulls up some sugar kelp seaweed off the French coast in April 2020. He was the keynote speaker during the opening ceremony of the inaugural Seaweed Days Festival. (Vincent Doumeizel/Submitted)
Let’s hear it for seaweed: slimy, unsexy and the world’s greatest untapped food source

Experts talks emerging industry’s challenges and potential at Sidney inaugural Seawood Days Festival

Troy Patterson, a Cadboro Bay 15-year-old, got a virtual meeting with B.C.’s environment minister months after he started an online petition calling for construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline to stop. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
B.C. teen’s 23,000-name Coastal GasLink petition gets him an audience with the minister

15-year-old Saanich high school student and George Heyman discussed project for about 30 minutes

Most Read