BC Insulators Union statement on COVID 19 to members

BC Insulators Union – Statement on COVID19 situation and Employment Insurance and Medical EI to members 

The COVID 19 pandemic situation is rapidly creating serious problems for BC Insulators Union Local 118 members and employers. A provincial “state of emergency” has been declared for at least 2 weeks as of March 18, 2020.

Your Union is here to help protect your health and safety and your employment – please read this carefully and contact the Union office if you need assistance. We will update this information as soon as possible when new information is received.

1. Workers in B.C. have the right to refuse unsafe work if they believe it presents an undue hazard. (OH&S Regulation s.3.12). In these circumstances, the worker would begin by reporting the undue hazard to their employer. Employers must investigate immediately and ensure that any necessary corrective action is taken without delay (OH&S Regulation s.3.10).

Employers in B.C. are required by regulation to provide minimum standard around the provision of washrooms and hand-washing facilities. Where plumbed facilities are impracticable, employers must provide access to portable washroom and hand-washing facilities, these facilities must be maintained in good working order, and must have the supplies necessary for their use.

Employers have an obligation to protect the health and safety of employees under OH&S legislation. If you have a reason to believe that there’s dangerous conditions in the workplace you are able to refuse to attend work or perform certain duties.

Employers cannot dismiss, discipline, or intimidate employees for properly exercising a health and safety right.

Please check out WorkSafeBC for more information.

2. If your employer is closing down your worksite due to the COVID19 situation you should immediately apply for Employment Insurance with the reason being “shortage of work.” Information on how to apply is at this EI websitehttps://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/ei-regular-benefit.html

If you do not have enough hours to apply for EI, the federal government is creating an Emergency Support Benefit starting in April. More information will be available soon and we will inform members.

3. If you believe you may be sick with possible COVID19, the medical EI 1-week waiting time for claims is being eliminated by the federal government. EI Sickness Benefits are for up to 15 weeks if you are unable to work due to illness, injury or quarantine. You can find more information online here: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/corporate/notices/coronavirus.html

The Union will be reducing the wait time for Short Term Disability from 8 days to 1 day if you are in self-isolation or ill but your first course is to apply for EI Sickness Benefits.

If a Member is self-quarantined because a family Member has been quarantined with a diagnosis of COVID-19, despite the Member having no symptoms – the Member will be asked to make application for EI benefits.

4. A Member’s doctor has advised them that due to an underlying condition that puts them at risk of exposure to COVID-19, they are unable to travel to their worksite location, therefore are unable to work, despite having no known exposure to COVID-19 – the Member will be asked to make application for EI benefits.

5. A Member is in hospital, for any reason, – the Member may apply for Short Term Disability benefits.

6. If you are already in quarantine, you do not need to provide a medical certificate. You should seek appropriate health care professional advice. You can call the BC Health Ministry’s 811 help line for more information.

7. If you need general information about COVID 19 and your workplace as a worker or employer, go to the WorkSafeBC website page here: https://www.worksafebc.com/en/about-us/news-events/announcements/2020/March/covid-19-and-the-workplace

8. If you need general information about COVID 19 for yourself or your family, you can go the BC Centre For Disease Control website here: http://covid-19.bccdc.ca/

9. There are a variety of other financial relief measures being offered by credit unions and banks, including lines of credit for laid off workers, mortgage payment and student loan deferrals for financial hardship and other steps. You should first contact your financial institution for details but if you require the Union’s assistance please contact us.

10. Community Savings is offering a special line of credit for workers facing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This means that those facing job losses can have access to an interest free $2,500 line of credit. Due to the current economic situation, the credit union is maintaining a degree of flexibility for applicants in terms of work history and current employment status–you can apply on EI. Community Savings is offering a suite of other tools to those who do their banking there to relieve the pressure folks are facing right now.

Importantly, these offerings are for current or new members of Community Savings only. Workers must join the credit union in order to leverage these options. This is an easy process and although Community Savings has branches throughout B.C., workers do not need to live near a branch in order to sign up; they can apply on the website: http://www.comsavings.com

These are difficult times for our members and other construction workers as well as all Canadians. Please be assured your Union will do all it can get you back to work as soon as possible and safe.

The Union office is closed due to the COVID 19 situation, but you can still contact the Union directly:

Business Manager Neil Munro is available by email at: nmunro@insulators118.org or cell 778-866-2057

Vice-President Ashley Duncan can be reached by email at: aduncan@insulators118.org or cell 604-363-1606

You can also leave general messages at the Union office if you wish at email: insulators@insulators118.org or telephone 604-877-0909

Thank you and stay safe!