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

Missing Richmond man last seen in Chilliwack

Shawn Johnson last seen on June 30 on Main Street

Double homicide investigation leads Vancouver police to Eagle Landing

A VPD forensics unit was in Chilliwack Saturday collecting evidence connected to East Van murders

Abbotsford man wins $1 million in Lotto 6/49 draw

Kenneth Giffen wins prize after deciding to stop in Agassiz gas station after fishing trip

Overnight paving work near Abbotsford could snarl highway traffic

Fraser Valley motorists told to expect detours as the paving work continues until July 14 at 5 a.m.

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

B.C. records 62 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths since Friday

Province has just over 200 active cases

Hotel rooms for B.C. homeless too hasty, NDP government told

Businesses forced out, but crime goes down, minister says

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

B.C. government prepares for COVID-19 economic recovery efforts

New measures after July consultation, Carole James says

COVID-19 exposure on Vancouver flight

The Air Canada 8421 flight travelled from Kelowna to Vancouver on July 6

Double homicide investigation leads Vancouver police to Chilliwack

A VPD forensics unit was in Chilliwack Saturday collecting evidence connected to East Van murders

VIDEO: Former Abbotsford resident giving away $1,000

Langley native Alex Johnson creates elaborate treasure hunt to give away cash

Tree planters get help with COVID-19 protective measures

Ottawa funds extra transportation, sanitizing for crews

UPDATE: Abbotsford shooting victim was alleged ‘crime boss,’ according to court documents

Jazzy Sran, 43, was believed to have been smuggling cocaine across the border

Most Read