B.C. cabinet ministers sit far apart in a nearly empty legislature to pass emergency measures to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, March 23, 2020. (Chad Hipolito/The Canadian Press)

B.C. moves to prevent people being fired due to COVID-19 consequences

Employment law changes cover isolation, child care, travel bans

B.C. is following the lead of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario, changing its employment law to protect people from losing their jobs due to COVID-19 effects.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth presented amendments to the Employment Standards Act in a minimal session of the B.C. legislature March 23, as one of 10 MLAs present for a legal quorum while most provincial politicians joined others in staying home as much as possible.

The main effect of the bill is to make sure no one can be fired for following the directions of Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, who has made a range of orders closing businesses and restricting gatherings. It allows people to take unpaid, job-protected leave, retroactive to Jan. 27, 2020 when the first B.C. case of the novel coronavirus was identified.

RELATED: B.C. announces $5B relief package, delays business tax payments

RELATED: Cities warned not to declare emergencies, Abbotsford mayor says

The legislation also protects people if “they have been directed by their employer to stay home because of concerns about their exposure to others, or because they are unable to return to British Columbia because of a travel or border restriction, or they are providing care to their minor child or dependent adult who is their child or former foster child, including when a school or daycare facility has closed,” Farnworth said.

“The leave will be available for as long as one of these eligible COVID-19 related situations applies to employees.”

B.C. Green Party MLA Sonia Furstenau applauded a provision to guarantee employees three days of unpaid leave per year due to illness or injury.

With airlines and services curtailed, only nine MLAs joined Premier John Horgan in the legislature for what may be the last scheduled sitting of what would normally be the spring session of the legislature. Labour Minister Harry Bains was among the majority who stayed away.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureCoronavirus

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

Just Posted

Nanaimo, Royal Jubilee to be Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 frontline hospitals

Other Island hospitals will be admitting COVID-19 patients and will be used in a support role

Port Alberni’s Lauren Spencer-Smith advances to American Idol top 20

Teen performs Respect at outdoor concert in Hawaii

Former Alberni Valley Bulldog Eric Margo shows heart on and off ice

Queen’s University Gaels forward blends hockey with humanitarianism

An ongoing updated list of Alberni Valley events affected by COVID-19

Has your event been cancelled or postponed? Check here

75-year-old woman rescued from Cowichan Lake

Victim taken to hospital, but expected to recover

As 300K+ apply for emergency benefit, Trudeau says aid coming for Canadians left behind

Canada Emergency Response Benefit provides $2,000 per month

UPDATE: UK PM Boris Johnson moved to intensive care after COVID-19 symptoms worse

He has been quarantined in his Downing St. residence since being diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 26

Travellers, travel agents ‘in agony’ over refund policies and customer service

Many Canadian carriers are offering customers flights rebookings or travel vouchers — but not refunds

Introverted and extroverted kids likely to react differently to COVID-19 restrictions

B.C. child psychologist says your parenting approach can’t be one-size fits all in social isolation

B.C. begins taking submissions for $2M COVID-19 research fund

Rural health, impact of shifting hospital resources among priorities

Wearing non-medical masks can stop spread of COVID-19 before symptoms start: Tam

Health officials had previously not recommended wearing them

Most Read