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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Garth Dauncey is one of the volunteers working on renovations at a Langley City home for the AOK Extreme Home Repair project. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
AOK home repair could use funding support to aid Langley family

A GoFundMe is looking to raise up to $80,000

One man was seriously injured in a shooting incident at the Willowbrook Shopping Centre on Monday, May 3. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)
LETTER: Student poem about Langley shooting gets to the heart of the matter

All the gang violence is fueling the fight, says a young writer

One of three new hangars can be seen going up at the new Langley airport terminal building, blocking the view of the old air traffic control tower (L) , which was closed when NAV Canada operations shifted to the new tower (R).(Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)
Construction of new Langley airport terminal building nears completion

NAV Canada has moved into the new tower in the terminal, which means work on hangars can proceed

The site of a planned new restaurant will be that of the former Lampliter and the cottage next door on Glover Road. (Langley Advance Times files)
Vacant Fort Langley buildings to be replaced with restaurant

The new project will retain a large tree on Glover Road

Trash collectors in Langley City will start refusing to pick up organic waste mixed with plastic. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Organic waste mixed with plastic will be left at the curb, Langley City warns

Plastic contamination of green bins called ‘exceptionally high and unacceptable’

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Keith MacIntyre - BC Libertarian
Penticton’s Keith MacIntyre new leader of the B.C. Libertarian Party

The Penticton businessman was voted in by members of the party on May 8

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a 'person of interest' in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
Man sought in suspicious Kootenay death found in Lake Country

Philip Toner is a person of interest in the death of Brenda Ware

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP reported to 287 mental health calls between Jan. 1, 2021, and May 1. (Black Press files)
‘It’s not the police’s responsibility to deal with mental health calls’: Vernon RCMP

RCMP remind public to take care of mental health and well-being, while better solutions are sought

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Thompson Rivers University campus is in Kamloops, B.C. (KTW file photo)
Thompson Rivers the 1st B.C. university to supply free menstrual products

The university will offer the products this September

Fraser Health is using ‘targeted’ vaccination clinics in high-risk areas of the Lower Mainland. (Fraser Health photo)
B.C.’s COVID-19 decrease continues, 515 new cases Tuesday

426 seriously ill people in hospital, up from 415 Monday

The site of Sunfest, Laketown Ranch, will be open for camping this summer. (Citizen file)
Sunfest country music bash won’t be shining on B.C. in 2021

Annual Vancouver Island Festival cancelled due to COVID-19, along with Laketown Shakedown

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation elected chief councillor Moses Martin, who was also Chantel Moore’s grandfather, speaks to media in Port Alberni on Aug. 16, 2020, during a visit from NDP leader Jagmeet Singh following the police shooting of Chantel Moore. (Elena Rardon photo)
Mother of 2 shot by police in critical condition, says B.C. First Nation chief

Community ‘devastated’ by third member of 1,150-person Vancouver Island nation shot in less than a year

Most Read