The provincial government says it is aggressively lobbying Ottawa to create some sort of universal sick leave program to ensure workers do not feel pressure to go to work while ill.
Labour Minister Harry Bains said Thursday there have been numerous occasions across the country where employees ended up going to work during the pandemic because they could not afford to stay home.
“As a result the virus spread to other workers and the businesses ended up shutting down,” he said. “We are working very closely with the federal government, our premier is talking to the prime minister, and our colleagues across the country to ensure that we find a national solution to that. It’s a national pandemic. It affects everyone across the country.”
He suggested changes could be made to the federal EI program to support workers who fall ill.
“If the feds fail to work with us, which I’m hopeful that they will, I think we as British Columbians will find our own way,” Bains said, adding the province doesn’t feel the burden for sick leave should be placed entirely on employers.
Bains also said WorkSafeBC officers will be out conducting random inspections to ensure provincial COVID-19 guidelines are being followed. In the entirety of last year, the agency conducted 10,000 inspections but has already conducted 15,000 this year.
“The guidelines were never intended as a silver bullet one size fits all solution,” he said, suggesting WorkSafeBC will work with individual businesses on solutions that work for them.
But at the end of the day, Bains said, it is up to businesses to win the confidence of customers. It appears there is still quite a bit of work to be done there, with nearly 50% of Castanet readers this week saying in an online poll they are still not comfortable dining out.
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