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British Columbians deserve paid time off to be vaccinated

Nurse in mask and goggles administering a needle to the shoulder of a patient
March 29, 2021 - 3:00 AM

VANCOUVER—As British Columbia gears up to administer COVID-19 vaccinations to the general public, Unifor is urging the provincial government to follow Saskatchewan’s lead and give workers paid time off to receive the vaccine. 

“It’s a no-brainer if you want to maximize vaccinations and minimize disruption to British Columbians, workers need paid time off to be vaccinated,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “No worker should choose between the vaccine and their pay cheque.”

Provincially mandated paid time off for vaccination would require legislation, and it’s something Unifor is demanding alongside a permanent provincial paid sick leave policy.

“There’s an urgent need to align workplace policy and public health policy,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western Regional Director. “The pandemic has taught us a cruel lesson: sick workers should be able to stay home and isolate or recover as needed without financial penalty.”

Unifor is asking the government to seek unanimous consent in the legislature to table emergency legislation for paid vaccination leave.

“Comprehensive vaccination is not something we can leave to a casual ‘after hours and weekends’ strategy as some businesses are already suggesting,” added McGarrigle. “We need as many people vaccinated as soon as possible to return to normalcy in B.C.—and that’s good for business too.”

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

For media inquiries or to arrange interviews via Facetime, Zoom, or Skype please contact Unifor Communications Representative Ian Boyko at ian.boyko@unifor.org or 778-903-6549 (cell).