MEMBER RESOURCES RE: COVID-19: MARCH 24, 2020
As the situation around COVID-19 (commonly referred to as ‘Corona virus’) continues to develop, so too does the information that comes with it and our response.
We have been instructed by the provincial health officer that the best course of action is to exercise good personal hygiene including regular hand washing, and to “help flatten the curve” by social distancing.
We will update this page as more information becomes available or changes.
NON-MEDICAL PHONE AND TEXT LINES
The phone line is 1-888-COVID19 or 1-888-268-4319, and it is open and available from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. There is also a text line available at 604-630-0300.
Please be aware the wait times can be quite long.
From the BC Centre for Disease Control website, these are the guideline for self-monitoring that everyone should be following at this time.
Self-monitoring means looking for new symptoms or signs of corona virus infection such as fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, etc.
Take and record temperature daily and avoid the use of fever reducing medications (e.g., acetaminophen, ibuprofen) as much possible. These medications could mask an early symptom of COVID-19; if these medications must be taken, client should advise their healthcare provider.
If you develop symptoms, use the BC COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool to help determine if you need further assessment or testing for COVID-19 (see below).
COVID-19 SELF-ASSESSMENT TOOL
The BC Ministry of Health developed a self-assessment tool to help determine whether you may need further assessment or testing for COVID-19. You can complete this assessment for yourself, or on behalf of someone else, if they are unable to. COVID-19 Self-assessment Tool
CALL 811 IF YOU HAVE ANY SYMPTOMS
If you’re experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, please call 811. This is where British Columbians should call to reach health professionals and if they are experiencing symptoms related to COVID-19 and/or have been in close contact with someone known to have COVID-19. For more info check out the BC Centre for Disease Control website.
Also be aware that wait time to get though are quite long, please be patient if trying to get through.
OFFICE IS CLOSED, BUT WE ARE AVAILABLE
Please see our Office operations and contact information here.
Dues payments can be paid through online banking using your member number as your account number.
GOVERNMENT SAFE CONSTRUCTION SITE GUIDELINES
On Sunday, March 22 the provincial government released its bare minimum requirements for a safe work site. These include:
- There should be no more than 50 people in the same space in any circumstances.
- Where possible, employees should maintain a distance of two metres apart from each other.
- Post signage that limits the number of occupants in any elevator to four people at a time.
- Reduce in-person meetings and other gatherings and hold site meetings in open spaces or outside.
- Increase the number of hand-washing stations and post signage that identifies their location.
- Maintain a list of employees that are currently working on sites and update this list daily.
- All common areas and surfaces should be cleaned at the end of each day. Examples include washrooms, shared offices, common tables, desks, light switches and door handles.
- Anyone with COVID-19-like symptoms, such as sore throat, fever, sneezing or coughing, must self-isolate at home for 14 days.
Read the full release from the provincial government here. If you see any unsanitary or unsafe working conditions on your work site please contact WorkSafeBC and Corry at the BC Building Trades, as they’re collecting stories around this.
RIGHT TO REFUSE UNSAFE WORK
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 see the below post with some information from BCCWITT, and check out WorkSafeBC for more information.
MEETINGS & APPRENTICESHIP SCHOOL CANCELLED
As per International: “The General Executive Board has approved and will work with all of the Local Unions to ensure that our members health and safety is of the utmost concern. As a result, we are placing a suspension on all Local Union Meetings and Local Union Elections shall be postponed until such time as the COVID-19 virus national emergency quarantine and isolation recommendations are lifted.” – All union meetings and area meetings will be cancelled until later notice.
Along with the cancellation of meetings, our apprenticeship school will also be canceled until further notice.
EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE & NEW EMERGENCY CARE BENEFIT
The Government of Canada has made changes to EI in response to COVID-19, including waiving the waiting period for those who qualify for EI Sickness Benefits, as well as waiving the requirement to provide a medical certificate to access EI Sickness Benefits. Members should apply for Sickness Benefits if they are unable to work due to illness, injury or quarantine.
At this time, if a job is cancelled or suspended because of COVID-19, then those members out of work are on an economic lay-off and the current waiting period for EI still applies. We hope this will change, and we are currently lobbying government to eliminate the waiting period altogether. Members who have lost their job through no fault of their own and do not qualify for EI Sickness Benefits should apply for Regular Benefits.
For those who do not qualify for paid sick leave or EI benefits, there is a new Emergency Care Benefit to provide income support to workers, including self-employed workers. Application for the Benefit will be available in April. For more information visit: COVID-19 Economic Response Plan.
SHORT TERM DISABILITY
The union will be reducing the wait time on 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 in the hospital (for any reason) they are to apply for Short Term Disability Benefits. Contact DA Townley if you have any questions.
OTHER GOVERNMENT SUPPORT
A few other changes announced by the federal government that may provide relief to members include:
- Personal income tax filing deadline changed to June 1
- If you owe taxes, ability to defer tax payments until August 31
- Business tax filing deadline changed to July 31
- Effective March 30, interest-free reprieve on student loan payments until September 30 (see https://www.csnpe-nslsc.canada.ca/en/home)
For more information visit: COVID-19 Economic Response Plan.
CSCU INTEREST FREE LINE OF CREDIT
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.
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
YOUR HEALTH INFORMATION
We urge you to follow the guidelines laid out by our public health officials. Again, The main message we are hearing from health care professionals is that at this time the best course of action is to exercise good personal hygiene and to wherever possible limit interaction with the general public. Also:
- Gatherings of 50 or more people should be canceled or postponed
- Anyone returning from any travel abroad must self-isolate for 14 days
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. Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns.