VICTORIA - Labour, Citizens' Services and Open Government Minister Stephanie Cadieux released the following statement in recognition of Labour Day:
"As we enter autumn, it is important to remember that Labour Day is not just another statutory holiday - it is also a day for us to take the time to recognize the people who make this province a better place to live, work and play.
"The British Columbia that we know and love today did not appear out of thin air. In the 19th century, much of our province was covered by woods. Hard-working people of generations past felled trees, constructed bridges and erected buildings. This work was done in the name of progress, but it often came at a great cost as lives were lost and protections were few.
"Only in recent generations have workers seen the benefit of workplace rights such as a minimum wage, paid holidays, parental leave and a 40-hour work week. Our Province's employment standards continue to evolve.
"Earlier this year, we consulted with groups and organizations on modernizing our employment standards to reflect the needs of the 21st century workplace. The input we received has already helped to guide our decision to increase the provincial minimum wage to $10.25 an hour by May 1, 2012.
"Over the last century, B.C. workers have also gained the right to safe working conditions. I am pleased to report that we have seen the lowest injury rates in our history over the past two years. While that is something we should take pride in, there is more work to be done. One life lost on the job is one too many. That is why we have more compliance and safety officers than at any time in WorkSafeBC's history, and why we focus on high-risk industries.
"Many of these rights and protections exist in part because of the work of British Columbia's union movement. Approximately 30 per cent of the workforce is currently covered by a collective agreement, and I am pleased to note that B.C. is currently experiencing one of the most stable labour climates in its history.
"This Labour Day, please take a moment to reflect on the accomplishments of British Columbian workers from yesterday and today. Their work has made our province what it is today."
Ministry of Labour, Citizens' Services and Open Government