B.C. businesses on the hook for more sick pay than promised: B.C. Liberals

THE B.C. Liberals said on Friday that after Premier John Horgan broke his promise not to download the cost of sick pay ​onto employers while they are still carrying the economic burdens of the pandemic, small businesses ​are now shocked to learn that they have once again been misled by the NDP government and could be on the hook for as many as 10 days ​of paid sick leave in 2022 instead of ​five.

“We support sick pay and ensuring British Columbians are healthy and safe, but we also believe the NDP wasn’t honest with small business owners about the parameters of the program,” said Official Opposition Critic Greg Kyllo. “Businesses were promised a smooth and open transition from government-funded to employer-funded ​sick pay, but these decisions have instead been made behind closed doors with no public consultation, with employers unexpectedly facing a potential doubling of costs related to the program.”

While the government originally earmarked $325 million for the government-funded sick pay program, the ​NDP has only paid out $10.5 million as of January 16​, 2022, leaving hundreds of millions of dollars available to keep Horgan’s promise to cover the cost during the pandemic. In a recent study conducted by the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, 86 per cent of small businesses were unaware of their obligation to potentially pay for ten days of sick leave​, and nine out of ten small businesses have stated they are unhappy with the B.C. government for adding new costs at a time when businesses can least afford it.

“No worker should have to choose between missing a paycheck or being forced to go to work sick,” said ​Todd Stone, Opposition Critic for Jobs, Economic Recovery, and Innovation​. “​But to download these costs onto businesses during the Omicron wave and when the government has hundreds of millions of dollars they allocated for sick pay — this could be the last nail in the coffin for hundreds of businesses that are hanging by a thread. The NDP should use the funds ​they ​had allocated and continue to cover the cost of sick pay for now — as they did up until January 1, 2022 — so that we don’t push these costs onto businesses until they are ready to take them on.”