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White Rock coffee shop owner calls for CERB changes while struggling to get workers back

Last Updated Jun 24, 2020 at 7:28 pm PDT


Owner of Laura’s Coffee Corner says most of her workers have refused to come back to work

The White Rock coffee shop owner hopes B.C. will adopt Manitoba's new initiative to pay residents if they return to work

The Government is continuing to give out $2,000 a month to people who can't work

WHITE ROCK (NEWS 1130) — A coffee shop owner in White Rock is calling for an incentive in B.C. to get people off CERB as 75 per cent of her employees refuse to come back to work.

Laura’s Coffee Corner has been a fixture in White Rock for ten years. And since reopening for dine-in at the beginning of June under Phase 2 of the province’s restart plan, only six out of 16 staff members have returned.

Laura Cornale says her missing staff members are putting a strain on the few employees who have returned.

“I have the same six people six days a week and after seven hours, they’re done,” she says.

Since reopening, Cornale says there has even been a demand for product, but she does not have the labour to fulfil it.

“You put your heart and soul in the business and you’d think people would come back no problem but they don’t want to come back. Either for safety reasons or they’re happy being on CERB,” she says.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the federal CERB benefit was brought in and pays $500 per week to those who are eligible.

To qualify, you must have lost your job due to the pandemic, but Cornale is wondering, when are employees expected to return to work?

“If there is a job available to you under CERB you should be back at work,” Paul Mclean a workplace lawyer from Mathews, Dinsdale & Clark says.

“Unless you meet the exceptions, you’re sick due to COVID-19, you’re taking care of others due to quarantine, or you’re taking care of children because care facilities are closed. Those are specific exceptions.”

Mclean adds some of his own clients are also facing the same problem as Cornale.

“We’re having a challenge with some clients who pay the minimum wage…so $540 a week. We’re seeing some – but not the majority – who they suspect are not returning to work when they could.”

So forcing someone back to work right now is a challenge he says.

“In pre-COVID times, an employer would usually get a doctor’s note. But it’s difficult because it’s not just the employee’s issues. It’s my wife, my parent, my grandparent who might have COVID. So employers are left with the honesty of the employee.”

On Tuesday, the Manitoba government it will pay residents up to $2-thousand if they return to work and stop collecting COVID-19 benefits. Which is also an initiative Cornale says she would support in B.C.

– With files from Nikitha Martins