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

Robert’s column
Robert Barron Column: Poachers in forest reserve should be treated harshly

‘Poachers need to be rounded up and prosecuted as soon as possible’

Can you dig it? Crofton In Bloom volunteers certainly can. From left: Trayci Lepp, Tony Lamley, Bonnie Lamley, Mary Patient and Jane Grueber. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Community pride grows from volunteer group’s beautification efforts

All ages contribute to Crofton In Bloom’s objectives

An object in motion stays in motion. An object at rest stays at rest. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)
Sarah Simpson Column: This mother is grinning and bearing it

News broke the other day that, after months in hibernation, Grouse Mountain’s… Continue reading

An online cooking lesson with Ian Blom, the Red Seal Chef from the Ainslie Restaurant, is one of the items on auction in a fundraiser for the Duncan Curling Club and other causes. (Submitted photo)
Online action being held to assist Duncan Curling Club and other causes

Auction, run by the Duncan Rotary Club, closes May 22

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Queen Elizabeth II and Clive Holland, deputy commonwealth president of the Royal Life Saving Society, top left, virtually present Dr. Steve Beerman, top right, with the King Edward VII Cup for his drowning-prevention work. Tanner Gorille and Sarah Downs were honoured with Russell Medals for their life-saving resuscitation. (Buckingham Palace photo)
Queen presents Vancouver Island doctor with award for global drowning prevention

Dr. Steve Beerman receives Royal Life Saving Society’s King Edward VII Cup at virtual ceremony

Former UFV Cascades wrestling coach Arjan Singh Bhullar is now the ONE heavyweight champion after defeating Brandon Vera via TKO in round two on Saturday in Singapore. (ONE Championship)
Former UFV wrestling coach wins MMA championship

Arjan Singh Bhullar captures ONE heavyweight title, first Indian origin fighter to achieve honour

Astra Zeneca vaccine waits for injection in a Feb. 3, 2021 file photo. A Langley man has become the second B.C. resident to suffer a blood clot following an injection. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
B.C. man required emergency surgery after AstraZeneca vaccination

Shaun Mulldoon suffered ‘massive blood clot’ after jab

Chilliwack’s Kile Brown, performing as drag queen Hailey Adler, dances and lip syncs in front of hundreds of people during the inaugural Chilliwack Pride Barbecue at the Neighbourhood Learning Centre on Aug. 24, 2019. Monday, May 17 is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of May 16 to 22

International Day Against Homophobia, Talk Like Yoda Day, Sea Monkey Day all coming up this week

Most Read