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Labour group concerned British Columbians can't afford to call in sick despite concerns over COVID-19

Last Updated Mar 11, 2020 at 5:15 am PST


The B.C. Federation of Labour is asking federal and provincial governments to step up and help part-time workers

Many part-time and casual workers feel unable to call in sick over COVID-19, as they don't have paid sick leave

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) –¬†Whether you work in an office for a big company, or you work for yourself, everyone gets sick.

As the province tries to deal with the coronavirus outbreak, BC’s top labor group wants to make sure employees who have to miss out on work, don’t miss out on a paycheck.

Government and healthcare officials are repeating the message to stay at home if you are not feeling well or are sick, and that message is stronger than ever before as the province deals with new cases of COVID-19.

But it’s advice that many British Columbians can’t afford to take because they don’t have paid sick leave.

And it’s a huge concern for¬†Laird Cronk, President of the B.C. Federation of Labour.

“workers are now faced with the untenable decision to say, ook, I’m feeling sick, but if I don’t go to work, I could lose my job,” he explains.

The B.C. Federation of Labor represents half a million workers in the province and is calling on the provincial and federal governments to compensate part-time and casual employees, along with independent contractors who are missing work due to the Coronavirus.

“This is pennies on the dollar for governments to ensure that workers don’t make that bad economic decision to protect themselves for the necessities of life,” Cronk explains. “Life versus what happens if they go to work, people get sick and the economy collapses.”

Premier John Horgan spoke in Surrey Tuesday afternoon, not specifying whether financial support is possible.

“We need to look at how we as the province can assist small businesses as they see potentially, employees not being able to come to work. That’s having an impact on their productivity, having an impact on their access to markets,” he says. “All of those things are being worked on right now by the senior officials in government. And as required we’ll be laying those issues out over the weeks and months ahead.”

Meantime, there weren’t many details Prime Minister Justin Trudeau can share about what can be done to help those part-time and casual workers.

“There are going to be significant economic impacts for Canadians, for workers, for businesses,” Trudeau says. “That’s why we’re going to be talking very soon about measures that Canada is going to put forward to support people on the economic side.”

In B.C, the so-called gig economy is expanding and with it comes more freelance workers without sick days.

Uber and Lyft have confirmed they will compensate drivers who are diagnosed with COVID-19 or in quarantine under public health authorities’ orders.