B.C. Premier John Horgan and Yukon Premier Sandy Silver (right) hold meetings in Whitehorse, Sept. 30, 2019. They have been pressing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to (B.C. government)

B.C. businesses ‘can’t shoulder burden’ of COVID-19 sick pay

Trudeau’s plan should be tied to federal emergency aid

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s commitment to a national sick-pay program should be a shorter version of the federal COVID-19 emergency benefit, not a long-term disruption of employer-employee relations, B.C. business groups say.

After weeks of pressure from B.C. Premier John Horgan, supported by the Manitoba and Yukon premiers, Trudeau said May 25 he is working with the provinces on a program to provide 10 days of paid sick leave across the country for people staying home due to symptoms that could be the coronavirus.

Greg D’Avignon, president of the Business Council of B.C., said he supports Horgan’s concern about a potential second wave of virus and further setbacks for a business community trying to weather a world-wide pandemic. But placing more public health costs onto business is neither fair nor viable.

“There was some conversation in B.C. about the potential to use WorkSafeBC, without any presumption of where the sickness was taken on,” D’Avignon said in an interview May 28. “This is a global health pandemic and a provincial and national health emergency, and it seems odd that business would shoulder the burden of those costs when somebody could be transmitting in the community and it has nothing to do with work.”

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business says small business especially can’t take any cost increases at this time, and benefits such as sick pay should continue to be worked out between employers and employees.

“Small firms are already bracing for a significant increase in Employment Insurance premiums to cover the cost of higher levels of unemployment we expect to continue as the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) are removed from the system,” CFIB president Dan Kelly said.

D’Avignon and 20 other provincial and national business leaders sent a letter to Trudeau May 28, calling on the federal government to create “a temporary sick pay program under the CERB and/or EI that “sunsets’ once public health and emergency orders related to COVID-19 are lifted.”

The letter is also signed by Retail Council of Canada presidnet Diane Brisebois, Restaurants Canada president Shanna Munro, Canadian Franchise Association president Sherry McNeil, Canadian Energy Pipeline Association president Chris Bloomer, Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce CEO Steve McClellan, Greater Vancouver Board of Trade president Bridgette Anderson, B.C. Chamber of Commerce president Val Litwin, Surrey Board of Trade president Anita Huberman and Independent Contractors, B.C. Council of Forest Industries president Susan Yurkovich, Mining Association of B.C. president Michael Goehring and Businesses Association president Chris Gardner, among others. (See letter below.)

D’Avignon said talk in Ottawa about making paid sick leave a permanent national program doesn’t work, and any program should be tied to temporary emergency orders.

“The federal NDP were suggesting somehow this should be a permanent measure, and frankly that assertion just doesn’t respect or understand how employee benefits and negotiations take place in the workplace,” D’Avignon said. “They’re better left to collective bargaining agreements and/or workers and companies in the private sector that aren’t under collective agreements to figure out the scope of benefits.”

Horgan, Yukon Premier Sandy Silver and Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister issued a statement after Trudeau’s announcement, noting the Yukon government has already moved ahead with a sick leave program. They praised the national proposal, still in the works like other Ottawa pandemic programs that have been announced, but didn’t comment on how long it should last.

Sick Pay Letter BCBC May28.20 by Tom Fletcher on Scribd


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureCoronavirus

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

Just Posted

Conservation officers relocate Spirit bear known to roam northwestern B.C.

Bear roamed valley north of Terrace for many years

Comox Valley Regional District awarded poverty reduction strategy grant

The Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD), in partnership with the City of… Continue reading

CVRD office and meetings re-opening to public

The office has been closed to the public since March 17 to help limit the spread of the coronavirus

NIC’s Metal Fabrication program returns to Campbell River

Metal fabricators build, assemble and repair products made of steel or other metals.

Courtenay development proposes expanded pub, condos

Courtenay council gave second reading Monday to a development application for a… Continue reading

Horgan says B.C. restart making gains as more people come out of their homes

B.C. announced the easing of more restrictions on businesses, recreation and travel last month

Conservatives say police should be called into investigate WE charity scandal

Trudeau is already under investigation by the ethics commissioner for potential conflict of interest

Amber Alert continues for missing Quebec girls, 6 and 11, and their father

Police issued the alert for Norah Carpentier, 11, and Romy Carpentier, 6, from Levis, Que.

Limit police access to lethal weapons in Indigenous communities: Justice Summit

Grassroots-organized National Indigenous Justice Summit was a free-to-attend two-day videoconference

Campaign aims to raise $50K for young family of deceased Vancouver Island skydiver

James Smith, 34, died July 5 following incident in Nanoose Bay

Survey, hotline launched amid probe into racist blood-alcohol guessing game at B.C. hospital

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been appointed to lead an investigation by Health Minister Adrian Dix

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

B.C. ports part of data integration project to protect marine ecosystems

The $1.2 M federally funded program will draw crucial baseline data from Canada’s three coastlines

Filing deadline in RCMP sexual-harassment class-action extended due to COVID-19

Plaintiffs now have until January 2021 to submit claims for up to $222,000

Most Read