Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo is the B.C. Liberal labour critic. (Hansard TV)

Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo is the B.C. Liberal labour critic. (Hansard TV)

No injured worker funds for COVID-19 sick pay, B.C. Liberals say

Premier has suggested WorkSafeBC an option to cover costs

The B.C. government’s commitment to come up with a paid sick leave program for people who don’t have employer illness coverage should not use WorkSafeBC’s fund, B.C. Liberal labour critic Greg Kyllo says.

Kyllo and other opposition critics have called on the NDP government to deliver on Premier John Horgan’s promise last year to give people paid time off if they have symptoms that may be from COVID-19, to avoid workplace transmission of the virus.

Kyllo said the premier’s commitment, restated by Labour Minister Harry Bains in the legislature Thursday, should come from its pandemic contingency fund, and not from WorkSafeBC as Horgan suggested after last week’s B.C. budget. WorkSafeBC’s funds come entirely from employer premiums, and the government has been clear that employers can’t absorb more costs, he said.

“I think it’s a gross misuse of funds to pull dollars away from the workers’ accident fund, rather than utilize in excess of $3 billion they have in their pandemic slush fund,” Kyllo said in an interview April 29.

Questioned about the issue Thursday, Bains would provide no details.

“More needs to be done, and I can assure this house that we will have a made-in-B.C. sick pay plan,” Bains said.

RELATED: B.C. Liberals propose trimming WorkSafeBC surplus

RELATED: B.C. NDP changes WorkSafeBC rules for virus claims

RELATED: Ontario using workplace insurance to administer sick pay

In the legislature earlier this week, Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Todd Stone quoted Horgan’s commitment from last year, when he was lobbying Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to bring in a sick pay program as part of federal pandemic relief efforts. “We’re prepared to go it alone if need be. We do have alternative plans in place.” Stone quoted Horgan as saying.

When the federal budget came out April 19 with no sick pay plan, the provincial budget was ready for delivery the following day and couldn’t be altered. Ontario was in the same situation, and has since moved to use its workplace insurance fund to cover up to three days of sick pay for people concerned they might be infected.

WorkSafeBC’s surplus was an issue before the 2017 election, when then-jobs minister Shirley Bond said a re-elected B.C. Liberal government would put a cap on WorkSafeBC’s surplus premiums and return excess funds to employers who pay into the agency’s injury fund.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business tracked the issue and B.C.’s declining worker accident rate, estimating that by 2015, WorkSafeBC’s assets exceeded liabilities by $4.5 billion.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC politicsCoronavirus

Just Posted

The Seattle Cossacks are a popular portion of the Hope Brigade Days parade. Some form of a community parade may still take place, say organizers. (Standard file photo)
Hope’s Brigade Days once again hit by pandemic concerns

Main event cancelled, but there is a glimmer of hope some events could happen

(Submitted)
Looking back on a rural nursing career in Hope

After a career spent working at Fraser Canyon Hospital, Jo-Dee Chisholm retires

B.C. Wildfire Services shows a fire on Chehalis Forest Service Road as of Sunday, May 16, 2021. (BC Fire Services)
UPDATE: Fire near Harrison Mills grows to 3 hectares

Resident near wildfire: ‘I pray that the Creator brings rain as soon as possible’

Justin Bond’s Bahrain 1 took a team around a year to construct. It gets its name because the Sheik of Bahrain is a major sponsor of the team. / Photo courtesy of Justin Bond.
Mission dragracer wins Atlanta race, ousts back-to-back world champion

Justin Bond goes quarter-mile in 5.738-seconds, beating champ Stevie ‘Fast’ Jackson on home turf

Jamie and Erin O’Neill, who are renting a 107-year-old house at 45837 Knight Rd., are wanting to save it from the wrecking ball and move it when it comes time for the owners of the house to build a new house on the property. They are pictured here outside the home on Tuesday, May 11, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack couple wants to save 107-year-old home from demolition, asking for community support

O’Neills have less than year to find new property, raise funds to move Knight Road house

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. Dr. Ben Chan remembers hearing the preliminary reports back in March of blood clots appearing in a handful of European recipients of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Science on COVID, VITT constantly changing: A look at how doctors keep up

While VITT can represent challenges as a novel disorder, blood clots themselves are not new

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of May 16

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Poached trees that were taken recently on Vancouver Island in the Mount Prevost area near Cowichan, B.C. are shown on Sunday, May 10, 2021. Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have all become valuable targets of tree poachers in British Columbia as timber prices hit record levels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne.
Tree poaching from public forests increasing in B.C. as lumber hits record prices

Prices for B.C. softwood lumber reached $1,600 for 1,000 board feet compared with about $300 a year ago

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

The Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO) (File Photo)
Police watchdog investigating after man found dead in Surrey following a wellness check

IIO says officers ‘reportedly spoke to a man at the home before departing’

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

People shop in Chinatown in Vancouver on Friday, February 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver community leaders call for action following 717% rise in anti-Asian hate crimes

‘The alarming rise of anti-Asian hate in Canada and south of the border shows Asians have not been fully accepted in North America,’ says Carol Lee

Most Read