The BC Government is implementing permanent 5-day paid sick leave for the province and will begin at the start of the new year.

Minister of Labour Harry Bains said that this is to protect some of the most marginalized people in the workforce.

“Many of the people who lack paid sick leave are the same workers we depended on most during the pandemic,” said Bain.

“Lower-wage workers who help us get our groceries, prepare our food at restaurants, and make sure we have the services we need deserve a basic protection like paid sick leave.”

When asked if small businesses would get any help in covering the mandatory sick leave, Bain said the benefits outweigh the costs.

“We learned that the benefit of paid sick leave far exceeds the modest cost that comes with paid sick leave. For example, the businesses who have paid sick leave provisions have  healthier and more productive workers.”

Dr Bonnie Henry said that this is a good step to break the chains of transmission without losing wages.

“It gives people the means to stay away from work if they’re sick and reduces the risk to their co-workers or others they come in contact with through their jobs.”

“Paid sick leave will be particularly beneficial to women who are more likely to be balancing work and family responsibilities. Sick leave will help women – especially Indigenous women – reattach to the labour market, providing them more stability and security, while benefiting employers through improved productivity, loyalty and recruitment,” said Sheila Lewis, provincial women’s manager of Métis Nation British Columbia.

According to the BC Government:

  • More than one million workers in B.C. do not currently have access to paid sick leave, mostly those in low-wage jobs, who are more often women or racialized workers.
  • The paid sick leave protection will apply to all workers covered by the Employment Standards Act (ESA), including part-time employees. The ESA does not cover federally regulated sectors, self-employed workers and employees in professions and occupations explicitly excluded from the ESA.