Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo is the B.C. Liberal labour critic. (Hansard TV)

Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo is the B.C. Liberal labour critic. (Hansard TV)

No injured worker funds for COVID-19 sick pay, B.C. Liberals say

Premier has suggested WorkSafeBC an option to cover costs

The B.C. government’s commitment to come up with a paid sick leave program for people who don’t have employer illness coverage should not use WorkSafeBC’s fund, B.C. Liberal labour critic Greg Kyllo says.

Kyllo and other opposition critics have called on the NDP government to deliver on Premier John Horgan’s promise last year to give people paid time off if they have symptoms that may be from COVID-19, to avoid workplace transmission of the virus.

Kyllo said the premier’s commitment, restated by Labour Minister Harry Bains in the legislature Thursday, should come from its pandemic contingency fund, and not from WorkSafeBC as Horgan suggested after last week’s B.C. budget. WorkSafeBC’s funds come entirely from employer premiums, and the government has been clear that employers can’t absorb more costs, he said.

“I think it’s a gross misuse of funds to pull dollars away from the workers’ accident fund, rather than utilize in excess of $3 billion they have in their pandemic slush fund,” Kyllo said in an interview April 29.

Questioned about the issue Thursday, Bains would provide no details.

“More needs to be done, and I can assure this house that we will have a made-in-B.C. sick pay plan,” Bains said.

RELATED: B.C. Liberals propose trimming WorkSafeBC surplus

RELATED: B.C. NDP changes WorkSafeBC rules for virus claims

RELATED: Ontario using workplace insurance to administer sick pay

In the legislature earlier this week, Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Todd Stone quoted Horgan’s commitment from last year, when he was lobbying Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to bring in a sick pay program as part of federal pandemic relief efforts. “We’re prepared to go it alone if need be. We do have alternative plans in place.” Stone quoted Horgan as saying.

When the federal budget came out April 19 with no sick pay plan, the provincial budget was ready for delivery the following day and couldn’t be altered. Ontario was in the same situation, and has since moved to use its workplace insurance fund to cover up to three days of sick pay for people concerned they might be infected.

WorkSafeBC’s surplus was an issue before the 2017 election, when then-jobs minister Shirley Bond said a re-elected B.C. Liberal government would put a cap on WorkSafeBC’s surplus premiums and return excess funds to employers who pay into the agency’s injury fund.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business tracked the issue and B.C.’s declining worker accident rate, estimating that by 2015, WorkSafeBC’s assets exceeded liabilities by $4.5 billion.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC politicsCoronavirus

Just Posted

Comox Valley medical clinics are all open, including the availability to book face-to-face care (i.e. for a physical examination) as per your clinic’s protocol (most clinics operate a “virtual care first” policy). ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
Northern Health launches virtual primary care clinic

Northerners without a family physician or nurse practitioner will now have access to primary care

Demonstrators lined Hwy 16 May 5 to mark the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. (Deb Meissner photo)
VIDEO: Smithers gathering marks Red Dress Day honouring missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls

Approximately 70 people lined Hwy 16, drumming, singing and holding up placards

“Skeena,” by John Hudson and Paul Hanslow is one of five fonts in the running to become the default for Microsoft systems and Office programs. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Font named after Skeena River could become the next Microsoft default

One of the five new fonts will replace Calibri, which has been Microsoft’s default since 2007

The road to Telegraph Creek (Hwy 51) was closed April 15 due to a washout. On May 4, the road was opened to light-duty passenger vehicles during specific times. (BC Transportation and Infrastructure/Facebook)
Telegraph Creek Road opens for light-duty vehicles

Road has been closed since April 15 due to a washout

Marc Kielburger, screen left, and Craig Kielburger, screen right, appear as witnesses via video conference during a House of Commons finance committee in the Wellington Building in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 28, 2020. The committee is looking into Government Spending, WE Charity and the Canada Student Service Grant. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
BREAKING: Trudeau didn’t violate conflict rules over WE Charity, watchdog says

Federal ethics commissioner Mario Dion found that former finance minister Bill Morneau did violate the rules

Tinder, an online dating application that allows users to anonymously swipe to like or dislike other’s profiles. (Black Press Media files)
B.C. man granted paternity test to see if Tinder match-up led to a ‘beautiful baby’

The plaintiff is seeking contact with the married woman’s infant who he believes is his child

Nurse Tami Arnold prepares to administer a COVID-19 vaccine. (Kareem Elgazzar/AP)
B.C. adults 30+ now eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19

Health officials made the announcement Wednesday afternoon

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner Andrea Inness walks beside an enormous western red cedar stump in a BCTS-issued cutblock in the Nahmint Valley. (PHOTO COURTESY TJ WATT)
Watchdog: logging practices put Vancouver Island old growth, biodiversity at risk

Forest Practices Board has issues with BC Timber Sales practices in Nahmint Valley near Port Alberni

Erik Christian Oun, who worked for the Coquitlam school district, has had his teaching licence suspended for half a year. (Pixabay)
B.C. teacher suspended after calling students ‘cutie’ and ‘sweetheart’ in online messages

Erik Oun’s licence has been suspended for half a year, a decision made by the B.C. Commissioner for Teacher Regulation

An Israeli attack helicopter launches flares as he flies over the Israeli Gaza border, southern Israel, Thursday, May 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Singh calls for halt on Canadian arms sales to Israel as violence escalates in region

Government data shows Canada sent $13.7 million in military goods and technology to Israel in 2019

New homes are built in a housing construction development in the west-end of Ottawa on Thursday, May 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Budget’s foreign-homebuyers tax could bring in $509 million over 4 years, PBO says

Liberals are proposing a one per cent tax on vacant homes owned by foreign non-residents

A Canadian flag patch is shown on a soldier’s shoulder in Trenton, Ont., on Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014. The Canadian Forces says it has charged one of its members in the death of an army reservist from British Columbia during a training exercise at a military base in Alberta last year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lars Hagberg
Canadian Forces member charged in death of army reservist during training exercise

Cpl. Lars Callsen has been charged with one count of negligence

Most Read