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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is an independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C.’s 1st vaccine-induced blood clot case detected in Interior Health

Interior Health also recorded 52 new cases of COVID-19

Williams Lake RCMP are asking the public for assistance locating Marion Louise Billy. (Photo submitted)
Williams Lake RCMP seek woman wanted for theft, weapon possession

RCMP released the information Thursday, May 6

Audrey McKinnon was officially named the NDP nominee for the federal riding of Cariboo-Prince George. (Twitter)
Audrey McKinnon confirmed as Cariboo Prince-George federal NDP nominee

The nomination comes during speculation the federal government

Gibraltar Mine general manager and community sports coach Ben Pierce moved to Williams Lake in 2008 for a career, and has fallen in love with the area while raising his family in the Cariboo. (Photo submitted)
OUR HOMETOWN: Mine manager on solid ground

Juggling academics, sports and a family was a challenge, but Pierce said he and Liselle made it work

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

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

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent sails past a iceberg in Lancaster Sound, Friday, July 11, 2008. The federal government is expected to end nearly two years of mystery today and reveal its plan to build a new, long overdue heavy icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver, Quebec shipyards to each get new heavy icebreaker, cost remains a mystery

Vancouver’s Seaspan Shipyards and Quebec-based Chantier Davie will each build an icebreaker for the coast guard

Most Read