Upcoming Events

Climate & Labour Workshop series:

Workshop 4: Building Worker Power in the Face of Climate Crises Tips and Tricks for Initiating Conversations with Co-workers
November 22 at 6 PM
Register here

(Past) Workshop 1: How is Standing in the Walk-in Freezer a Work Issue? Exploring How Heat, Wildfires, and Floods Impact Workers
October 4 at 6 PM

(Past) Workshop 2: Literally Painting a Picture of Workers’ Concerns and Barriers Let’s Talk About Refusing Unsafe Work!
October 17 at 6 PM

(Past) Workshop 3: Surviving and Thriving in Community and Self-Care Navigating Mental Health during Climate Crises
November 8 at 6 PM

Send a Letter!

Take action through our letter campaigns below and write to your local government representatives for change!

Demand Maximum Heat Policy Now!Implement Status for All and Emergency EI Measures for Migrant Workers

New Report: Can’t Stand the Heat? Get Out of the Kitchen!

The Impact of Extreme Weather Events on Food Service Workers in British Columbia

This report tells the story of:

  • Compromised health and safety
  • Amplified mental health concerns
  • Lack of breaks for hydration
  • Scheduling changes and lost wages during climate fuelled business closures
  • Lack of knowledge around paid sick days
  • The complexity of refusing work
  • Deeper precarity of food service workers during extreme weather events
Click the above image for the report or view the attached PDF here
Read the Briarpatch article about our report


Employment law was not written to anticipate a rise in extreme environmental disasters. There are no laws in place to protect workers’ employment if they do not report to work during an extreme weather event. Moreover, health and safety measures in the workplace are dated, rarely enforced, and ineffective.

Workers need better labour rights protections and enforced health and safety regulations. How the Government of BC decides to safeguard those most vulnerable during extreme weather events will demonstrate the fundamental priorities of this government. Immediate policy changes need to take place to put an end to the experiences workers have endured as a result of changing climate. The following is a list of recommendations.

Open Work Permits For All Workers Immediately

Migrant workers, including undocumented workers and workers with pending permanent residency applications, deserve decent work and protection from bad employers, especially in the face of a crisis. Rising temperatures that lead to worsened working conditions and compromised health and safety add another layer of precarity for undocumented workers in BC.

The Migrant Rights Network (2022) has proposed a comprehensive and inclusive regularization program calling for first-stage processing of work permits with automatic renewal, clear and simple application processes, and no exclusions, detentions, or deportations.

Free and Reliable Public Transportation

Walking during extreme heat waves, smoky wildfires, and torrential downpours is dangerous. Public transportation is a low-carbon option and essential for many workers to commute to and from work, especially for those who rely on transit for mobility reasons. Low-wage workers deserve free and reliable public transportation.

Minimum Wage Increase

The provincial government must establish a minimum wage that is greater than inflation-indexed to ‘consumer price’ since workers have been falling behind as a result of inflation. To protect workers against inflation, the provincial government should establish a living wage in BC to appropriately increase wages when the cost of living goes up.

15 Paid Sick Days

The ESA entitlement of 5 paid sick days is not enough. As climate-related health concerns rise, workers need to be able to be compensated when faced with heat exhaustion, wildfire smoke illnesses, heat-related disorders, etc. Coverage should include personal sickness, injury, or emergency, as well as family emergencies and responsibilities.

Curious about how we got here? >>
Climate Resources for Workers

? What are my legal rights as a precarious worker impacted by climate change at work?

Check out this PDF factsheet of your legal rights.

? How can I protect myself while working outdoors?

Check out this PDF resource of summer heat tips.

Climate Paid Leave

The exposure to high heat temperatures, floods, and wildfires may cause workers to refuse unsafe working conditions and face financial impacts from such refusal and from business closures. The provincial government should require the provision of up to 5 days of paid climate leave in a calendar year due to extreme weather each year, and an additional 5 paid days when there is a declared state of extended emergency, as determined by local officials.

Maximum Temperature Policy

There needs to be a legal maximum working temperature in the same way we have a legal minimum working temperature. Current occupational health and safety measures are related to body temperature at 38 degrees however, this doesn’t proactively limit workers’ exposure to heat stress and perform their jobs safely.

We recommend the government review other jurisdictions’ heat exposure measures and establish a ‘too hot to work’ legislation within the Compensation Act for workers working indoors and for outdoor workers at high risk of heat stress, such as in the agricultural and construction sector.

Additional breaks

Workers are not entitled to breaks under the ESA if they work less than five consecutive hours, and the ESA only requires employers to provide an unpaid 30-minute break for an 8-hour shift.

We recommend an amendment to the ESA in which workers receive two additional 15-minute paid breaks for respite during extreme heat and time for proper hydration, exclusive of a meal break during a 7-hour shift and a 30-minute break during a 5-hour shift.

Improving Access to Unionization for Precarious Workers

Unionization rates in the food service sector remains low. Bargaining power can improve employment and working conditions for many workers especially during a crisis like extreme weather events.

Improvements are needed to the Labour Relations Code to make it easier for workers in small workplaces and franchises to form a union, and successorship protections need to be strengthened so workers who have a union don’t lose their collective agreement during contract change overs.

Climate Organizing Toolkit (PDF)

Enforced Health & Safety Regulations

In this project, 87% of workers reported that heatwaves impact them the most out of all extreme weather events. Extreme rising temperatures can increase new hazards, and it is employers’ responsibility and obligation to reduce and remove the risk by conducting heat stress assessments and implementing heat stress exposure plans.

In this study, 97% of workers (all but one) identified specific protective measures that are needed to ensure worker health and safety during extreme weather events. The following list outlines existing measures under the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation that must be enforced to mitigate worker health and safety risks during extreme weather:

  • Flexible and breathable dress code;
  • Accommodation for hydration;
  • Sustainable cooling systems in the workplace;
  • Training on evacuation procedures;
  • Well-coordinated emergency communication channels;
  • Workers should not work alone;
  • Appropriate work-rest cycles;
  • Schedule working hours to minimize heat exposure;
  • Enforce employer workplace safety inspections.
Join the movement

This project is made possible by funding from Vancity.