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B.C. proposes paid leave for workers to get COVID-19 vaccine

Last Updated Apr 19, 2021 at 6:12 pm PDT

FILE -- A pharmacist prepares the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 mRNA vaccine at a pharmacy prototype clinic in Halifax on Tuesday, March 9, 2021. The province's COVID-19 vaccine age-based rollout continues and is being expanded to include other sectors of the population including healthcare workers. The CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Workers will be entitled to three hours of paid leave each time they have an appointment to get a shot

Minister Harry Bains says this change means people can be immunized without worrying it might take an economic toll

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — The B.C. government will be requiring employers to pay their workers if they have to take time off to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

A change to the Employment Standards Act announced Monday — if passed — will mean anyone who needs to get their shot during work hours is entitled to be paid for three hours for each dose.

Labour Minister Harry Bains says this change means people can be immunized without worrying it might take an economic toll.

“There will be circumstances where workers may need to take time off during their shift to go get vaccinated, and whether it’s a part-time worker or a full-time worker, they all will be qualified, but the basic principle remains that when they need to take time off work to go get vaccinated, they will not lose their job or their pay,” he says.

“People shouldn’t have to make this decision, to choose between pay, or getting vaccinated. We must ensure that it is as easy as possible for workers to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Many workers we understand are paycheck to paycheck, and they cannot afford to lose pay to go get vaccinated.”

Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade, says the move will ultimately benefit employers as well.

“Bringing in a paid leave for a set few hours for staff to get a vaccination is an opportunity for businesses to look at this as an investment in a future free of COVID-19, which will be good for their business and their bottom line, and ultimately economic recovery for all industries,” she says.

This announcement comes on the same day B.C. dropped the age eligibility for the AstraZeneca vaccine from 55 to 40.