‘Employers have a responsibility to keep workers safe in the workplace. The consequence for failing to do so is shouldering costs associated with workplace injuries’
Workers’ union Unifor is calling on the British Columbia government to continue with the proposed changes to workers' compensation that would see employers help to cover the costs associated with saving the lives of workers who contracted COVID-19 at work.
The union claims that the government must stay the course despite calls from private employers to water down the proposed changes.
“These are the same forces that resisted responsibility for lung cancer and asbestos poisoning,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor national president. “COVID-19 is the latest in a long line of occupational diseases that employers wish to pretend has nothing to do with the workplace.”
Unifor noted that employers have a responsibility to protect their employers from COVID-19 in the conduct of their work.
“Employers have a responsibility to keep workers safe in the workplace. The consequence for failing to do so is shouldering costs associated with workplace injuries,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor western regional director. “You can't have it both ways. Employers can't publish warm and fuzzy statements about 'COVID Heroes' one day, and seek to undermine their workplace health and safety net the next.”
Earlier this month, WorkSafeBC’s Policy, Regulation and Research Division (PRRD) was seeking feedback from stakeholders on a discussion paper they released to aid in the process of adding COVID-19 and other diseases caused by communicable viral pathogens to the list of occupational diseases. The consultation period ended on June 12.
“Pandemic pay is vital recognition of the sacrifices these workers are making to get us through this pandemic, but there's a void. Why isn't it being offered to all of the health care workers in our hospitals, and other congregate settings?” said Warren Thomas, OPSEU President.