May 11, 2021
MEDIA RELEASE: Pdf version here.
VANCOUVER, B.C. – The Worker Solidarity Network (WSN) welcomes the Province’s commitment to provide permanent paid sick leave for all employees in B.C. beginning January 1, 2022. In the meantime, a woeful three days may as well be accompanied by a sad trombone sound for workers that have been waiting a long time for a more progressive number.
“Today’s announcement was a lost opportunity to learn from the mistakes of Ontario’s sick leave program,” said Pamela Charron. “While today’s announcement recognized problems with the Federal CRSB, B.C. ‘s three-day program falls short and effectively forces workers to continue relying on the Federal program. Because workers receiving employer-paid sick leave are not eligible to also receive the CRSB in the same week, the two programs are misaligned and leave workers hanging for the remaining workweek, if they need more than three days to recover.”
After fifteen months of the pandemic, workers are being made to wait another seven months for gaps in legislated protections to hopefully be resolved.
With 89% of workers in B.C. earning under $30,000 without paid sick days, racialized workers and women, who are more likely to be made vulnerable by low-wage work, will continue to experience disproportionate impacts.
Under the new B.C. program, employers without existing paid sick leave are eligible to receive up to $200/day in reimbursement through WorkSafeBC. However, there’s nothing to prevent low-wage employers who can afford paid sick leave, such as Walmart, from accessing the publicly-funded program.
“Providing at least seven permanent paid sick days as a basic employment right must be the legacy B.C. leaves behind during this pandemic,” said Charron. “How B.C. safeguards those most vulnerable during this challenging crisis will demonstrate the leadership priorities of this government now, and in the future.”
Since before the pandemic began, the WSN has been calling for permanent paid sick days in B.C.’s Employment Standards Act. As the consultation process begins the WSN will continue to call for adequate protections for all precarious employees including migrant care workers, farmworkers, permanent, and seasonal, hospitality workers.
WSN Communications Coordinator