'This will ensure that no one will have to choose between losing pay and getting their doses of the COVID-19 vaccine'
British Columbia is amending its Employment Standards Act to provide workers with up to three hours of paid leave to get each dose of their COVID-19 vaccine.
The amendments expand on the regulatory improvements made on April 1, 2021, which provide job-protected leave for workers to take as much time as they need to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We know that many workers can’t afford to lose pay, and we need to make sure that it’s as easy as possible for workers to receive a COVID-19 vaccine,” says Harry Bains, minister of labour. “This paid leave will ensure that no one will have to choose between losing pay and getting their doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.”
If passed, the B.C. legislation will take effect retroactive to April 19, 2021.
“The best thing for all of us – for employers, workers, seniors, our health-care system and our communities – is to bring an end to the pandemic, which we can do through a strong immunization plan that works for everyone in B.C.,” says Bains.
Performance apparel manufacturer Canada Goose also said it would give all its employees up to four hours paid leave to receive COVID-19 vaccinations.
Stakeholders welcomed the development from B.C.
“Today’s announcement means a critical barrier has been removed for workers – they no longer have to choose between getting paid at work or getting their life-saving vaccinations. This is a big step in the right direction and a big win for workers, especially those who have been working on the front lines throughout this pandemic,” says Kim Novak, president of UFCW 1518.
The paid leave “is an opportunity for businesses to look at this as an investment in a future free of COVID-19, which will be good for their business and their bottom line, and ultimately economic recovery for all industries,” says Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade.
However, the government must not stop there, says Jerry Dias, national president of Unifor.
"The next logical step is paid sick leave. Letting sick workers stay home to recover is vital to containing threats to public health."
Seventy per cent of Ontarians support five days of sick days while 64 per cent support 10 days of paid sick leave, according to a recent survey.