VICTORIA, B.C. - Today, the province announced a permanent 5-day paid sick leave program for all workers covered by the Employment Standards Act.
“This program means employees do not have to choose between going to work sick and forgoing their wages - keeping people healthy, reducing transmission of infectious diseases and providing workers with important security. However, we were hoping for a policy decision based on clearly articulated public health and economic outcomes - not a median number plucked from a range of days,” said Sonia Furstenau, leader of the B.C. Green Party and MLA for Cowichan Valley.
“A paid sick leave policy should be developed and measured based on how it moves us towards those outcomes - less illness, greater equity, and more economic stability. Most OECD countries have 10 days or more of paid sick leave. That’s because paid sick leave is an essential public health measure, and an important basic standard for business. Government should closely monitor the impacts of this policy over the next year, and work with labour advocates and business to explore moving to match other OECD countries.
“As this is a public health initiative, government needs to ensure that small and medium sized businesses are supported so that the financial burden is not borne by already stretched business owners.”
“It’s important to highlight that effective, equitable paid sick leave programs are accessible and universal,” said Adam Olsen, MLA for Saanich North and the Islands. “They need to be applicable for dependents, so that parents can take sick days to care for their children, and they need to be accessible for workers regardless of how long they have been employed - you can’t control when you get sick.”
According to current regulations, B.C. workers can only take unpaid leave to care for family; this leaves low-income parents without options if their kids are sick. And, B.C. workers need to have been employed for 90 days before they can access paid sick leave.
“With this in mind, I welcome the announcement today - but call on government to continue to work on how to better promote public health in the workforce, especially as many jurisdictions around the world have stronger programs and healthy economies,” said MLA Furstenau. “I’d also like to see supports for small businesses who may be unduly impacted in ways that large corporations are not.”
B.C. Green Caucus
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