Protect Front-Line Workers

March 31, 2020

While the public is called upon to stay home in order to limit the spread of COVID-19, thousands of front-line workers continue to be required to report for work in order that the rest of us may have access to medical care, prescriptions, food, and other essential needs.

These workers put themselves at risk every day, and we owe it to them as a society to ensure that they are protected to the greatest extent possible both physically and economically.

The Executive Board of the Vancouver and District Labour Council calls upon government to enact the following protections to that end:

  • Make all front-line workers eligible for presumptive coverage under WCB (WorkSafe);
  • Ensure enforcement of the Duty to Accommodate with regards to workers who cannot work during the epidemic due to pre-existing health conditions, including paid sick leave for those who cannot work from home;
  • Provide testing for all workers showing symptoms congruent with COVID-19;
  • Establish paid sick leave for all workers, including paid leave for any period of quarantine or self-isolation;
  • Increase Employment Insurance to at least 75% of insurable earnings and reduce barriers to access;
  • Place limits on the numbers of shoppers allowed in retail locations and mandated measures to ensure physical distancing in all workplaces where practicable;
  • Enact a temporary ban on reusable bags and containers in stores and pharmacies;
  • Request all employers to supply workers on duty with masks, sanitizers, paper towels, gloves, and/or other items as may be appropriate to the workplace;
  • Suspend rent, mortgage, and utility payments for those who need it during the course of the pandemic;
  • Provide solutions for workers’ emergency childcare needs;
  • Provide Solutions to accommodate front line workers’ needs for equitable access to groceries, toiletries, and other household goods.

The critical role played by front-line workers during this pandemic is highlighting the important and often undervalued work that they do every day. Let’s all acknowledge that by demanding that they be protected today, and by holding government and employers to account in doing better by them in the future.

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