Premier John Horgan and Harry Bains, Minister of Labour, have issued the following statement marking Labour Day:
“On Labour Day, we celebrate the contributions of workers to our society and economy. We also recognize all those whose efforts have advanced the rights of workers in B.C. and around the world.
“For a second year, we are marking Labour Day in a world shaped by COVID-19. These are challenging days, but we have seen time and again that British Columbians are up to the task.
“Over the past 17 months, health-care professionals have served tirelessly on the front lines of the pandemic. Transit workers have helped people get to and from work safely and grocery-store employees have kept store shelves stocked. Teachers and education assistants are preparing to welcome children back to the classroom; and B.C.’s employers are working hard to keep workplaces safe.
“As we face a devastating wildfire season, I want to recognize the extraordinary efforts of firefighters and emergency personnel to protect people and communities throughout our province.
“More than a century has passed since the first Labour Day, and while we have made progress, there is much more to do. The pandemic has only renewed our commitment to closing the gaps and inequalities still experienced by some workers in British Columbia, because everyone deserves equal and fair treatment.
“For the first time in our province’s history, a made-in-B.C. permanent paid sick leave program will support workers to stay home when they are sick during the pandemic and in the future. We are also making sure that no employee loses pay if they need time away to get vaccinated.
“We are committed to bringing in changes that will improve B.C.’s workplaces far beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Our government raised the minimum wage to $15.20 an hour, one of the highest in the country, while ending the lower discriminatory minimum wage for liquor servers. We have established new protections for temporary foreign workers and raised the general working age for children from 12 to 16. After almost 20 years, we are bringing support service workers back into the public health-care system to create a more stable workforce and provide better care to patients.
“Making life better for people and employers continues to be our focus this Labour Day. By working together, we are building a fair, equitable and safe recovery from the pandemic that works for everyone in our province.
“Happy Labour Day!”