The article you just read was brought to you by a few thousand dedicated readers. Will you join them?

Thanks for coming by The Tyee and reading one of many original articles we’ll post today. Our team works hard to publish in-depth stories on topics that matter on a daily basis. Our motto is: No junk. Just good journalism.

Just as we care about the quality of our reporting, we care about making our stories accessible to all who want to read them and provide a pleasant reading experience. No intrusive ads to distract you. No paywall locking you out of an article you want to read. No clickbait to trick you into reading a sensational article.

There’s a reason why our site is unique and why we don’t have to rely on those tactics — our Tyee Builders program. Tyee Builders are readers who chip in a bit of money each month (or one-time) to our editorial budget. This amazing program allows us to pay our writers fairly, keep our focus on quality over quantity of articles, and provide a pleasant reading experience for those who visit our site.

In the past year, we’ve been able to double our staff team and boost our reporting. We invest all of the revenue we receive into producing more and better journalism. We want to keep growing, but we need your support to do it.

Fewer than 1 in 100 of our average monthly readers are signed up to Tyee Builders. If we reach 1% of our readers signing up to be Tyee Builders, we could continue to grow and do even more.

If you appreciate what The Tyee publishes and want to help us do more, please sign up to be a Tyee Builder today. You pick the amount, and you can cancel any time.

Support our growing independent newsroom and join Tyee Builders today.
Canada needs more independent media. And independent media needs you.

Did you know that most news organizations in Canada are owned by just a handful of companies? And that these companies have been shutting down newsrooms and laying off reporters continually over the past few decades?

Fact-based, credible journalism is essential to our democracy. Unlike many other newsrooms across the country, The Tyee’s independent newsroom is stable and growing.

How are we able to do this? The Tyee Builder program. Tyee Builders are readers who chip into our editorial budget so that we can keep doing what we do best: fact-based, in-depth reporting on issues that matter to our readers. No paywall. No junk. Just good journalism.

Fewer than 1 in 100 of our average monthly readers are signed up to be Tyee Builders. If we reach 1% of our readers signing up to be Tyee Builders, we could continue to grow and do even more.

If you appreciate what The Tyee publishes and want to help us do more, please sign up to be a Tyee Builder today. You pick the amount, and you can cancel any time.

Support our growing independent newsroom and join Tyee Builders today.
We value: Our readers.
Our independence. Our region.
The power of real journalism.
We're reader supported.
Get our newsletter free.
Help pay for our reporting.
News
  |  
Health
  |  
Coronavirus
  |  
Labour + Industry

As Workplace COVID Spreads, Labour Calls for Paid Sick Leave

Compensation for staying home ‘could have prevented all these exposures in the first place,’ says BC Fed head.

Moira Wyton 13 Sep 2021 | TheTyee.ca

Moira Wyton is The Tyee’s health reporter. Follow her @moirawyton or reach her here. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

As workplace COVID-19 exposures begin spiking once again, the BC Federation of Labour is calling on the province to introduce paid sick days to help workers avoid the risks and reduce transmission.

“The untenable choice of having to pay the bills or go to work usually results in people going to work sick,” said Laird Cronk, president of the federation, which represents about 500,000 workers in B.C.

WorkSafeBC reported 234 workers made compensation claims based on workplace exposures to COVID in August, more than double the 87 claims in July. Since September 2020, there have been 6,325 COVID-19 claims across all sectors, with a record 943 in December.

The increase comes as the pandemic’s fourth wave continues to batter workers in health, social services and education, just as it did in the previous three pandemic peaks, and raises concerns that workplace outbreaks will fuel COVID’s spread.

Cronk said paid sick leave for workers “could have prevented all these exposures in the first place.”

If paid sick leave for all workers had been in place when the pandemic began in March 2020, Cronk said, “we would have been so much better prepared to deal with this.”

The new WorkSafeBC numbers show workplace exposures and transmission are increasing with the Delta variant and relaxed public health measures in public-facing sectors like food service and education.

That same day WorkSafeBC released the August numbers, the labour federation released a report arguing all workers should be guaranteed up to 10 paid sick days to protect public health during a pandemic and beyond.

When the pandemic began, B.C. was the only province in Canada without protected unpaid sick leave for workers. 

In May, the provincial government announced it would introduce three days of paid leave for COVID-19 reasons, and legislate paid sick leave for all provincially-regulated employees. Consultations for the permanent legislation, which will take effect on Jan. 1, are ongoing.

Labour Minister Harry Bains said he would review the BC Federation of Labour report before public consultations begin later this month.

“We are aware of the impact this pandemic can have on our workplaces,” Bains said in a Friday statement to The Tyee.

The three days’ paid COVID-19 sick days have already protected workplaces, he said, and expanded sick days will build on the program.

“We will listen to what everyone has to say, and develop a minimum entitlement that is fair and reasonable,” said Bains.

Cronk said the temporary COVID-19 measure is important, but the legislation needs to be as broad as possible to save lives. Three days is not enough for anyone, he said, let alone someone with COVID-19 who needs to isolate for two weeks.

A majority of British Columbians agree. New polling included in the report shows about nine in 10 British Columbians believe employers have a responsibility to provide paid sick leave, and 76 per cent say it should also cover part-time and casual workers. 

These are the people paid the least, in the most public-facing high-risk jobs and who have the least means to take unpaid sick days. About 80 per cent of workers making $40,000 or less annually don't have paid sick leave at all.

“COVID or the flu don’t distinguish whether you’re full time or part time or a casual worker,” said Cronk.

Part-time and casual workers are also more often women or racialized people, which means paid sick leave is also a gender and racial justice concern.

In order for B.C.’s coming legislation to save lives, Cronk says it also needs to be accessible and flexible.

That means it should pay full wages rather than just a proportion and be included in workers’ regular paycheques.

For a worker making the decision whether to work through a scratchy throat or stay home and get tested, needing to apply or wait for the money may mean they still go to work sick.

“British Columbia can lead Canada, can lead North America, and say, ‘This idea is overdue,’” said Cronk. 

“It future proofs us for what will come next.”  [Tyee]

Share this article

The Tyee is supported by readers like you

Join us and grow independent media in Canada

Facts matter. Get The Tyee's in-depth journalism delivered to your inbox for free.

Tyee Commenting Guidelines

Comments that violate guidelines risk being deleted, and violations may result in a temporary or permanent user ban. Maintain the spirit of good conversation to stay in the discussion.
*Please note The Tyee is not a forum for spreading misinformation about COVID-19, denying its existence or minimizing its risk to public health.

Do:

  • Be thoughtful about how your words may affect the communities you are addressing. Language matters
  • Challenge arguments, not commenters
  • Flag trolls and guideline violations
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity, learn from differences of opinion
  • Verify facts, debunk rumours, point out logical fallacies
  • Add context and background
  • Note typos and reporting blind spots
  • Stay on topic

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist, homophobic or transphobic language
  • Ridicule, misgender, bully, threaten, name call, troll or wish harm on others
  • Personally attack authors or contributors
  • Spread misinformation or perpetuate conspiracies
  • Libel, defame or publish falsehoods
  • Attempt to guess other commenters’ real-life identities
  • Post links without providing context

LATEST STORIES

The Barometer

What Issue Is Most Important to You This Election?

Take this week's poll