Province seeks input to improve gig worker safety

British Columbia wants to hear from public and stakeholders

Province seeks input to improve gig worker safety

British Columbia’s Ministry of Labour says it wants to improve the working conditions of app-based ride-hailing and food-delivery workers. In a recent press release, the ministry announced that it is seeking feedback from the public on possible solutions to address the challenges faced by gig workers in the province.

According to the press release, platform companies, workers, and other stakeholders have already shared their views on the pros and cons of gig work. Among the concerns identified are "low, unpredictable pay" and issues related to "worker safety and workers’ compensation in case of becoming injured on the job."

The gig economy has become a significant part of the workforce in British Columbia. A 2023 report by the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade estimates that between 26,000 and 60,000 individuals are currently engaged in ride-sharing or food delivery platforms.

"Most people involved in this type of work agree there is room for improvement," the press release states, highlighting the widespread recognition of the need for change in the gig economy.

One of the key issues faced by app-based workers is the lack of compensation for the time spent waiting for assignments. The ministry states "app-based workers typically do not get paid for the time they spend waiting for assignments," which significantly affects their overall income.

To address these concerns and develop effective protections, the ministry is set to release a discussion paper that will open the next phase of engagement. The paper will focus on potential solutions, including "fair compensation standards, pay and destination transparency; a fair process for terminations or deactivations; and workers’ compensation coverage."

In their efforts to ensure comprehensive input from all relevant parties, the ministry is inviting individuals and organizations to provide their feedback on these priority standards and protections by September 30th.

The ministry says its previous engagement efforts have shown strong support for enhanced protections among gig workers. "More than four in five respondents rated additional worker protections as being ‘important’ or ‘very important’ to them.”

The issue recently came to the forefront when video of Uber driver, Aman Sood, being attacked by a passenger went viral. Sood, along with the president of the B.C. Federation of Labour, met with the province’s Labour Minister, Harry Bains, to advocate for improvements for gig workers.

The gig economy has particularly resonated with the younger population in the province. Research conducted by Research Co in April 2023 reveals that "the use of ride-hailing or food-delivery services is particularly heavy within the 18-34 age group at 87%."

Additionally, the demand for food delivery services has been on the rise, with Made in CA Food delivery statistics from February 2023 indicating that "half of Canadians order food for delivery once a week and spend an average of $32 per order."

Interested individuals and organizations can learn more about the engagement efforts and access the discussion paper on the ministry’s official website. The ministry urges everyone to participate actively in the feedback process and contribute to shaping the future of app-based work in British Columbia.