BC Federation of Labour

bcfed.ca

(Unceded Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam territories — Vancouver, BC) The BC Federation of Labour released the following statement today regarding the launch of provincial consultations on asbestos abatement licensing and training:

British Columbia’s unions are gratified to see the provincial government moving closer to acting on regulating asbestos abatement to protect workers and the public.

We hope this stage can be concluded expeditiously. The provincial government reviewed this issue thoroughly in a consultative process in which unions, industry and other stakeholders participated. That process concluded in 2018 with a report titled Keeping Workers, the Public and the Environment Safe From Asbestos, followed by an additional two-month consultation period.

That report set out a clear agenda for action, including:

  • licensing asbestos-removal companies, to address the persistent presence of bad actors in the industry;
  • setting training standards for asbestos-removal workers, so they have the know-how to do their jobs safely and recognize dangerous conditions; and
  • mandating better asbestos disposal methods, so we’re all better protected from this lethal toxic substance.

We hope the provincial government can find whatever additional information it needs quickly, and we encourage workers across BC to add their voices. Asbestos remains the single leading cause of workplace-related death in British Columbia; preliminary numbers show that 51 workers died from asbestos-related causes in 2021 alone. Every day that goes by without action risks adding to that toll. We ask the government to act on the recommendations in the report without further delay.

Background:

Author: smehta
Posted: January 13, 2022, 5:12 pm
Add Your Voice
https://www.workersdeservebetter.ca

Read injured workers' stories. Then join the call for urgent change to WCB.

Author: rob.cottingham
Posted: December 17, 2021, 7:33 pm

Please join us in congratulating the recipients of the Donna Sheaves and Kim Manton Memorial Scholarships, for the 2022 CLC Pacific Region Winter School.
 
Cheryl Dow from ILWU Local 502 is the successful recipient of the Donna Sheaves Memorial Scholarship.
 
Shona Dion from MoveUP is the successful recipient of the Kim Manton Memorial Scholarship.
 
Congratulations to you both!

Author: smehta
Posted: December 16, 2021, 9:04 pm

(Unceded Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam territories — Vancouver, BC) A major new campaign by BC’s labour movement aims to ensure urgently-needed changes at the province’s Workers’ Compensation Board.

“It’s been more than two years since the BC government received Janet Patterson’s report detailing major problems throughout workers’ compensation,” BCFED President Laird Cronk said. “It exposed a system that too often acts like a for-profit insurance company, instead of an ally in an injured worker’s recovery.”

The campaign website, at www.WorkersDeserveBetter.ca, will highlight injured workers’ stories of unjust, hurtful and even dangerous treatment by the WCB — stories Cronk said are all too common. And it will provide a way for supporters to call on the provincial government to take immediate action, including:

  • creating a Fair Practices Commission independent of the WCB to deal with complaints and implement solutions
  • removing binding policy provisions so decisions can be made on the merits of each case
  • ensuring an equal balance of worker and employer representatives on the WCB Board of Directors
  • mandating vocational rehabilitation to get workers back to real and sustainable jobs
  • ending discriminatory barriers to compensation for psychological injury and chronic pain
  • paying interest to workers when the WCB wrongly denies them benefits, resulting in a lengthy delay
  • ensuring the WCB makes the changes set out in the Patterson report to create a worker-centered approach.

Patterson’s report, drawing on input from more than 1,000 workers and their families, found that the WCB uses a cookie-cutter approach to injured workers, often ignoring medical advice and rushing them back to work before they’re ready.

“The report also confirmed what we’ve been hearing for years: that the WCB treats many injured workers as adversaries, with a troubling lack of personal or cultural respect,” said Secretary-Treasurer Sussanne Skidmore.

Skidmore said unions are encouraged by recent signals from the government that changes are coming, including a December 8 statement by Labour Minister Harry Bains. “We’re looking forward to hearing more. But we want to be sure those changes reflect the fact that the BC Liberals slashed workers’ compensation in 2002. And for nearly 20 years, employers have been enjoying artificially-low premiums at the expense of injured workers.”

“The BC NDP government has made some welcome changes. But we’re long overdue for the kind of reform that restores balance to the WCB, and puts injured workers where they belong: at the heart of workers’ compensation,” Cronk said.

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Background:

Author: smehta
Posted: December 13, 2021, 6:59 pm

(Unceded Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam territories — Vancouver, BC) — The BC Federation of Labour today released the following statement regarding the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women:

Thirty-two years ago today, a horrific act of misogynist violence at the École Polytechnique took the lives of 14 young women. Ever since, we have reserved this day every year to honour those women. We remember all of those who have been subject to gender-based violence wherever it occurs. We mourn murdered and missing Indigenous women, girls and Two-Spirit people. And we recommit to the work of ending gender-based violence forever.

That commitment takes on an added urgency now, as we approach the start of our third year grappling with COVID-19. UN Women warns us of a shadow pandemic: the dramatic intensification of gender-based violence amidst the outbreak. And just as COVID has amplified other inequities and gaps in our society, this shadow pandemic is worsened for those whose gender intersects with race, Indigeneity, disability and poverty.

Ending gender-based violence is a society-wide challenge. It affects us at every level of our lives: at home, at work, at school and in the community. We are proud to work with community partners like Battered Women’s Support Services and EVA BC; from providing crucial services to those dealing with gender-based violence to promoting bystander intervention, they are helping to ensure a more secure, safer future. But there’s much more work to do.

We support the call of the Canadian Labour Congress for the federal government to ratify and implement the International Labour Organization Convention no. 190, acknowledging the fundamental, universal right to freedom from violence and harassment in the world of work. We welcomed the BC government’s introduction of paid leave for workers fleeing gender-based and sexual violence, but it is only a start — it should be expanded so workers can seek the wraparound services they need. And all levels of government need to do more both to address gender-based violence and provide support and safe, stable refuge for those affected by it.

We encourage workers everywhere to commemorate today, whether it’s by attending a community event, learning more about gender-based violence and how we can address it, or taking a moment to remember and reflect.

And we remember the names of those murdered young women: Geneviève Bergeron. Hélène Colgan. Nathalie Croteau. Barbara Daigneault. Anne-Marie Edward. Maud Haviernick. Maryse Laganière. Maryse Leclair. Anne-Marie Lemay. Sonia Pelletier. Michèle Richard. Annie St-Arneault. Annie Turcotte. Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz. We will never forget.

Author: angela.boscariol
Posted: December 6, 2021, 6:18 pm

(Unceded Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam territories — Vancouver, BC) Today’s paid sick leave announcement by the BC government represents a significant milestone — but still falls short of providing the coverage sick workers need, BCFED President Laird Cronk said today.

“This is an important achievement for public health and safer workplaces,” Cronk said. “But we’re disappointed that it’s only half the 10-day standard that science supports and that is the overwhelming preference of British Columbians.”

All workers covered by BC’s Employment Standards Act will be entitled to employer-paid sick leave starting January 1, 2022. The change means immediate help to the more than half of BC workers who have no paid sick leave, and nearly 90 per cent of disproportionately racialized and women workers in low-wage sectors.

“Make no mistake, paid sick leave will save lives here in BC. It's going to reduce the spread of disease and ensure healthier workplaces, while cutting healthcare costs and driving down inequality,” Cronk said.

The five-day program, however, falls well short of what workers, public health experts and economists have called for — and what is the standard in most of the OECD, Cronk said. And it’s only half of the Canadian government’s 10-day paid sick leave commitment for workers in federally-regulated sectors.

“While we’re disappointed, we’ll continue to fight for the full 10 days of leave. The public health and economic case is clear. Despite some business lobbyists’ dire claims about costs to employers, study after study—and practical experience around the world— show the opposite: paid sick leave is good for the economy,” Cronk said.

“Workers need to have the confidence that if they get sick more than once a year, they have the protection they need to make the choice to stay home. ”

While supporting the seamless employer-paid model, Cronk said the BCFED remains opposed to the 90-day waiting period for eligibility that will exclude many seasonal, construction, farm, and other precarious workers from coverage. "How does it make sense that a worker is forced to go to work sick if they are ill during the first three months on the job? We’re also concerned that workers in the gig economy, who are too often misclassified by their employer as contractors, will continue to be left out.”

The BCFED is also challenging the requirement for doctors’ notes which physicians in other provinces have rejected as imposing costly, needless strain on the health care system.

The BCFED led a broad coalition of community organizations, employers, and unions in a public campaign for 10 days of paid sick leave. That campaign will now continue in BC, as advocates around the country mobilize to make 10 days the minimum standard for every worker in Canada.

“It never made sense to go to work sick, something the pandemic made clear, and now is our opportunity to truly fill that gap for all workers.”

Author: angela.boscariol
Posted: November 24, 2021, 8:43 pm

We’re writing to all of you to recognize and acknowledge just how wrenching the past few days have been to live through. We all have friends, family and colleagues whose lives have been upended by the floods, landslides and storms we’ve seen this week.

The loss of life is tragic. And there has been massive economic and social devastation to affected communities, First Nations, farms and our transportation lifelines, much of which will endure for months and even years.

We salute the courage, dedication and persistence of our fellow workers, many of them your members, who have made such heroic efforts to keep people and homes safe and restore the infrastructure we rely on. And we take great heart in the way British Columbians have responded to this crisis with compassion and solidarity.

This province will need to count on that spirit of solidarity as we take on the work not only of rebuilding from this catastrophe, but investing in the resilience of our communities and infrastructure to withstand the storms we know will come in the future — and making the profound, urgent changes we need to forestall even worse calamities by addressing climate change.

In the meantime, people need our help immediately. The BCFED has made a contribution to the United for BC Flood Response Fund as well as to the Migrant Rights Network’s fund for displaced migrant farmworkers. If your union is in a position to contribute to these or other relief efforts, we encourage you to consider making a donation.

And we know you join us in sending support and solidarity to everyone who has been affected by this crisis, and our deepest thanks to everyone helping us get through it.

In solidarity,

Laird Cronk and Sussanne Skidmore

Author: angela.boscariol
Posted: November 19, 2021, 5:52 pm

(Unceded Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam territories — Vancouver, BC) Despite business lobbyists’ claims of dire implications for employers, a new study shows 10 days of paid sick leave will mean negligible increases in costs for BC businesses.

According to the study, conducted by economist Jim Stanford at the Centre for Future of Work, the BC Federation of Labour’s proposed 10-day paid sick leave plan would increase overall costs for BC businesses by just one-fifth of one percent (0.21%). Even in the hospitality sector, where some employers have claimed paid sick leave would be especially harmful to business viability, costs would increase by less than one half of one percent (0.44%).

The study calculates the impact of the proposed 10-day plan on sick leave entitlements, absences, replacement staff costs, and bottom-line business expenses. It does not consider the business benefits of paid sick leave, such as higher productivity, healthier workplaces and lower employee turnover, which may offset any increased costs. The findings are a sharp rebuke to warnings of economic ruin from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, boards of trade and other business lobby groups.

“Ten days of employer paid sick leave is the floor throughout most of the OECD. Countries like New Zealand and Australia have 10 days, while Sweden has 14 and Germany 30,” said Laird Cronk, President of the BCFED. “We know the public health and inequality-fighting benefits of paid sick leave. This new study makes clear the solid economic case for it too.”

The BC government recently completed public consultations on whether to bring in three, five or 10 days of paid sick leave. They are expected to decide in the coming weeks on the number of days workers will have access to starting January 1. Polling shows that a vast majority of British Columbians across party lines support a 10-day program.

“The claim that an increase in business costs of this order of magnitude could cause widespread bankruptcy is simply not credible,” said Dr. Stanford. “Even if workers claimed every sick day they were entitled to, the bottom-line cost is just one-third of one percent of total business expenses. That’s far too small to make any measurable difference to the overall competitiveness and profitability of B.C. businesses.”

Background:

Author: kmcgrath
Posted: November 16, 2021, 8:13 pm

(Unceded Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam territories — Vancouver, BC) Two years after its own in-depth review of the Workers’ Compensation Board made detailed recommendations for sweeping change, injured workers are still waiting for the BC government to act.

October 30 marks the second anniversary of the submission of the report by workers’ compensation expert Janet Patterson to Labour Minister Harry Bains. The report found significant problems throughout the system, ranging from rushing injured employees back to work against the advice of medical professionals, to an often-adversarial relationship with the workers the WCB is supposed to help.

Many of the same failures Patterson identified were recently laid bare in an explosive report by BC’s Ombudsperson titled Severed Trust. That report details the experience of a worker (identified only as Mr. Snider) who was sent back to work despite a previous injury under threat of benefit cut-offs. As a direct result, Mr. Snider then suffered a dramatic injury that led to an amputation. Despite multiple appeals and hearings, the Ombudsperson concluded Mr. Snider has not received any semblance of justice after WCB errors led to his life-changing injury.

“Over 1,000 workers and their families came forward more than two years ago to tell very personal and difficult stories about their experiences with the compensation system. They deserve to see action,” said Laird Cronk, President of the BC Federation of Labour. “Like the Severed Trust report, Janet Patterson’s review found evidence of workers being forced back to work against their physicians’ medical advice and with the threat of benefit cut-offs. Among many other issues, the review exposed a system that sends workers back to work while still suffering from their injuries in order to meet arbitrary, cost-saving timelines.”

In June 2021, the BCFED released the Workers Deserve Better report laying out concrete legislative and policy changes needed to create a fair, accountable, and worker-centred compensation system. In includes the call for a Fair Practices Commission to deal with worker complaints and a medical services office to address disputes.

“The problems are systemic, this is not just one-off cases. If you get injured at work tomorrow, you enter a system designed like a private insurance company, one that takes a cookie cutter approach that doesn’t work for more complex injuries,” added Cronk. “Government knows what the solutions are: it's time to change a system rigged against injured workers.”

Background:


Below are a sample of key recommendations made in theWorkers Deserve Better report on how to improve the workers’ compensation system: 

  • Create a Fair Practices Commission independent of the WCB to deal with worker and employer complaints and an independent medical services office to address medical disputes; 
  • Include more worker representatives on the WCB Board of Directors; 
  • Eliminate the discriminatory barriers to compensation for psychological injury; 
  • Amend the Workers Compensation Act (WCA) to mandate vocational rehabilitation; Amend policies to require involvement of the worker and allow for flexibility in that rehabilitation;
  • Place the needs and recovery of injured workers above the speed at which a worker returns to work as a key measure of success; stop relying on a computer system to determine when an injury will heal; 
  • Amend the WCA to stop deducting CPP disability from workers’ benefits; 
  • Provide resources to ensure appropriate engagement with Indigenous communities, farmworkers and other groups of workers that face systemic barriers; 
  • Improve communication with workers and employers, with more resources to help workers navigate the complicated compensation system; 
  • Allow the WCB to consider exceptional circumstances impacting workers' pre-injury earnings; pay interest to workers when the WCB wrongly denies a worker benefits and must endure a lengthy delay. 

The full report can be downloaded here. 

Author: angela.boscariol
Posted: October 29, 2021, 9:35 pm

We are now accepting applications for the Donna Sheaves and the Kim Manton Memorial Scholarships at the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) Winter School.

Please find the application detail for The Donna Sheaves Memorial Scholarship here and the application detail for The Kim Manton Memorial Scholarship here.

The application deadline for both scholarships is Monday, December 6, 2021.

All applicants will be evaluated, and the scholarships will be awarded by Tuesday, December 14, 2021.

Please submit your application documents to sectreas@bcfed.ca.

More information on the courses:
Women in Leadership
Labour Community Advocate Level 1

Monday, December 6, 2021 - 16:45
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Author: angela.boscariol
Posted: October 29, 2021, 6:12 pm