From CUPE BC, the Legislative Coordinator’s report
Job-Protected Leave for Vaccination or COVID-19 Caretaking: Part-time and full-time workers can now take the time needed to travel and receive the vaccine or to take a dependent family member to receive the vaccine. Also, workers can now take job-protected leave if they need to care for other family members because of COVID-19, and not only a child or dependent adult as previously defined. Improvements also allow workers with underlying conditions, who are undergoing treatment or who have contracted another illness that makes them more susceptible to COVID-19, to take the leave.
Community Partnerships Support Vaccination Efforts: More than 1400 tourism and hospitality workers will be employed in vaccination clinics through partnership with the provincial government. CUPE workers from Air Canada, Pacific National Exhibition, and WestJet who have been laid off due to the pandemic will have the opportunity to provide their expertise and support as nonclinical staff at immunization clinics to help people move through the clinics efficiently and safely. Some municipalities will also be helping with contributions of staff, furniture and supplies.
Basic Income Report: The Basic Income Expert Panel released its report with 65 recommendations. They do not recommend moving to a straight system basic income, but instead recommend stronger public programs and supports combined with a basic income or guaranteed minimum income for target groups, such as our most vulnerable citizens. The report also recommended a number of improvements to address precarious work through increased worker rights. The full report can be found here.
Local Election Campaign Financing Rules Strengthened: New changes for local elections, which will take effect for the 2022 Local Government Elections, will extend the pre-campaign from 29 days to 89 days, limit sponsorship contributions to $1200, require elector organizations to register with Elections BC, and provide Elections BC with new investigative tools to support investigations and additional penalties. Elector organizations will also be required to register with Elections BC and complete annual financial reports. They will also be banned from accepting no one campaign contributions to pay for operational expenses in non-election years. More information can be found here.
Assistance Rates Permanently Increased: Starting with payments issued in April 2021, individuals on income assistance and disability assistance will automatically receive a permanent $175 per month increase. This will benefit more than 300,000 British Columbians who receive income assistance and disability assistance. There will also be an increase to the senior supplement of $50 per recipient, which represents the first increase to this supplement since 1987.
Legislative session: The Spring legislative session, which began on March 1, is on a two-week constituency break and will resume on April 12 with a Throne Speech and the budget will be delivered on April 20. The house will then continue sitting until June 17.