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

Brenda and Steve Smith with a photo of Derek Descoteau. It’s been five years since Derek was murdered in Chemainus. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Friends provide continuing comfort for family in wake of unresolved Chemainus murder

Case remains before the courts five years after Derek Descoteau’s abrupt stabbing death in Chemainus

Fast action by Chemainus Fire Department crews prevented a motorhome fire from inflicting more serious damage on adjacent homes. (File photo by Don Bodger)
Fast action by Chemainus crews limits the damage from motorhome fire

Adjacent homes under threat from intense blaze

The former St. Joseph’s School converted to the St. Joseph’s Art Studios in 2019. (File photo by Don Bodger)
Former Chemainus St. Joseph’s School site sold to addictions recovery group

Diocese stresses the importance of a community outreach option in its decision

North Cowichan Coun. Christopher Justice said he believes the community will not be served well with the resignation of Chris Crowther from the OCP advisory council. (File photo)
Member of North Cowichan’s OCP advisory committee quits

Chris Crowther said OCP process devisive

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

Announced Tuesday, May 18 by Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth, the province added gyms, dance and fitness studios to its list of places where face coverings are mandatory (AP/Steven Senne)
Masks now required at all times inside B.C. gyms, including during workouts

The province added gyms, dance and fitness studios to its list of places where face coverings are mandatory Tuesday

Reinhard “Bud” Loewen of Abbotsford has now been charged with 21 counts of sexual assault related to his massage business. (Facebook photo)
Former Abbotsford masseur now faces 21 counts of sexual assault

Bud Loewen of Bud’s Massage Therapy initally faced three charges

Over the years, police have worked with sketch artists to draw what the boys could have looked like at the times of their deaths. (Vancouver Police Department)
DNA breakthrough expected in cold case involving murdered Vancouver boys, 7 and 8

Forensic analysts are working to identify relatives of the children, whose bodies were found in Stanley Park in 1953

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

Livestock competitions have been part of the Pacific National Exhibiton for more than a century. (Maple Ridge News files)
B.C. provides $50 million to keep major tourist attractions going

Tour bus companies also eligible for latest COVID-19 aid

The new wing at the Victoria International Airport opened up on Thursday (File contributed/YYJ)
Pandemic takes ‘hundreds of millions’ out of Victoria Airport, Vancouver Island economy

Airport authority head says passenger volumes down as much as 98 per cent

The top photo is of a real carbine rifle, while the bottom photo is the airsoft rifle seized from a Kelowna man on May 15. (Contributed)
RCMP issue warning: ‘Imitation firearms need to be dealt with responsibly’

A man brandishing his airsoft rifle in public had his weapon seized by Mounties on Saturday

Reigning women’s World Champion Kaetlyn Osmond, who also took bronze at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, will debut two brand new programs for the 2021 Stars On Ice tour, in Victoria May 15. (File photo)
Kurt Browning, Elvis Stojko hit the ice when Stars On Ice returns to Vancouver Island

The star-studded lineup is makes a return after pandemic hiatus

Most Read