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Horgan says B.C. prepared to patch holes in new federal sick-pay benefits

December 3, 2020
The Canadian Press

By Dirk Meissner

VICTORIA — B.C. Premier John Horgan says the province is prepared to fill gaps in the federal government’s sick-leave program but needs more information on possible cracks in the plan to help employers and employees fight the spread of COVID-19.

Horgan said Thursday he’s heard informal reports about holes in the recent program, but he needs direct evidence or data that detail any problems before taking action.

“We do know that the sick-pay benefit that we worked so hard with the federal government to establish has gaps and holes,” he told a news conference.

“It’s all critically important that we have this seamless approach to how we deal with sick time, how we make sure people do not go to the workplace when they are not feeling well.”


Preventing spread of COVID-19

The federal benefits program was implemented last month to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at workplaces by covering the income of workers who previously didn’t get sick pay and may go to work as a result.

“That’s how community transmission begins,” said Horgan.

He said workers should not be denied pay when they are preventing COVID-19’s spread.

“We were grateful to the federal government for taking the national leadership that they did and if there are gaps, as they say, and we can identify those by looking at the data and following through to see where we can fill those gaps, we’re absolutely prepared to do that,” he said.

Horgan said he will investigate reports that some B.C. workers are being told by employers not to come to work due to COVID-19 but are not receiving sick pay.

“I want to fix that gap and those are the very things we talked about with the federal government when we encouraged them to put in place a national program,” Horgan said. “I want to see the evidence, the data, that demonstrates there are such examples.”

Horgan said the session of the legislature that starts on Monday will last two weeks at most. The NDP wants to pass legislation to ensure it can deliver its COVID-19 relief election promise of $1,000 for most families and $500 for individuals.

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