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BC NDP follows Ontario Tories on sick leave

BC Premier Horgan and friends
Bradley Hughes

May 11, 2021

For over a year now the BC NDP government has been able to brag that their Premier is one of the only Premiers calling for paid sick leave. Until  Doug Ford,  the Tory Premier of Ontario, went beyond talking about sick leave and started talking about implementing it, who could have expected more of a provincial government?

Mere days after Ford said he would implement paid sick leave, the BCNDP sprang into action. They immediately moved beyond talking about the need for sick leave and began talking about implementing it. But then Ford showed that he wasn't just talking, and brought in a completely inadequate 3 days of government funded paid sick leave.

Now it wasn’t just the BC Federation of Labour calling for paid sick leave, and an open letter signed by 65 businesses plus the Surrey Board of Trade and other employer groups, but a Tory Premier had proved it was actually possible.

Horgan vs. Ford
In the face of all this pressure, and obviously not wanting to compare badly to the Tories in Ontario, today the BC government announced a temporary program to provide three days of sick leave paid for by the government. No one can say that Premier Horgan cares less about the workers in BC than Premier Ford cares for those in his province. Of course, you also can’t say that Horgan cares any more than Ford does.

COVID makes you sick for two weeks, and if you have been in contact with anyone who has the disease you are required to stay home for two weeks. You would think that the BC Federation of Labour demand for a permanent program for ten days of employer funded paid sick leave is the least you could do. However, employer groups like the Surrey Board of Trade, and the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade were calling for a temporary program that is funded by the government, not employers.

Cheers from the 1%
Today’s announcement has been greeted with praise from the business community who got everything that they asked for, a temporary, government funded, short, inadequate, paid sick leave program. As disappointed as we all are that the BC NDP caucus values the opinions of employers over those of workers, hopefully after 4 years of this, we are no longer surprised.

If they had implemented a permanent ten days of employer paid sick leave immediately, this would have forced the business community to try to organize support to change the law to claw back a benefit workers were using. That would have been an uphill batter for the 1%. Instead, the NDP gave business everything they wanted plus a many month long consultation process on a permanent sick leave program. This gives businesses months to organize their campaign to try to water down the current inadequate provisions, and the rest of us are now required to fight to get a better program.

Given the long slow rise to a $15/hour minimum wage, the approval of the Liberals’ Site C Dam and their fracked gas terminal project, it is going to take a real fight to get this government to put people before profit and legislate decent sick leave.


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