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COVID-19: B.C. working on sick pay for part-time and casual workers, premier says

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus outbreak: B.C. will announce plans to reopen next week, extends state of emergency for another 14 days'
Coronavirus outbreak: B.C. will announce plans to reopen next week, extends state of emergency for another 14 days
Premier John Horgan said that the province will announce plans next week to reopen the economy. – Apr 29, 2020

The B.C. government on Wednesday gave its first indication that it’s working to get part-time and casual employees better access to sick pay under the coronavirus pandemic.

As he announced a third extension of the B.C.’s state of emergency to May 12, Premier John Horgan pointed to existing supports, such as the B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers and the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, also known as CERB, that such workers can apply for if they need to stay home because they feel ill.

Click to play video: 'How the B.C. government is protecting part-time workers during COVID-19 pandemic'
How the B.C. government is protecting part-time workers during COVID-19 pandemic

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But he acknowledged those programs won’t last forever, and that physical-distancing rules will be around for a long time.

The province has been struggling with how to ensure that part-time and casual workers who feel sick can and do stay home instead of going to work to get paid and risk transmitting COVID-19.

“Dr. [Bonnie] Henry made it abundantly clear that no longer can we have these heroic employees,” Horgan said, referring to the provincial health officer.

There have now been 50 confirmed cases of COVID-19 at Superior Poultry in Coquitlam and 42 at United Poultry in East Vancouver.

Click to play video: 'Where did the second cluster of COVID-19 cases at B.C. poultry plant come from?'
Where did the second cluster of COVID-19 cases at B.C. poultry plant come from?

Henry has said the initial inspection of the United plant found that several employees had come in to work despite having respiratory symptoms.

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Business owners certainly have a role to play in ensuring their workers stay home if sick, Horgan said, adding that economic needs must be balanced as well.

“We need to make sure that we’re not putting further burdens on companies and businesses who are coming out from what will be a significant shock to their bottom lines,” he said.

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He even shared his own experience, when he recently showed up for work one day sick himself, barely about to speak, when he really should have stayed home.

“I’m not going to do that again, and I don’t expect other workers to do that either.”

Following other provinces, Horgan said his government will unveil a multi-phase plan next week to start reopening businesses, the health-care system and schools.

WATCH: B.C. Premier John Horgan’s full April 29, 2020 briefing 

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