VICTORIA — Workers in British Columbia are now eligible for five paid sick days as the provincial government brings in changes to the policy affecting workers.
The government says eligible employees will be guaranteed those sick days, provided they've worked for their employer for at least 90 days.
Labour Minister Harry Bains said the change will help lower-paid workers who can least afford to miss a day of paid work.
The province says more than one million workers in B.C. did not have access to any paid sick leave before the new policy went into effect on Saturday.
The paid sick leave protection will apply to all workers covered by the Employment Standards Act, including part-time employees.
The decision to set the amount of leave at five days has been criticized by some labour groups.
The B.C. Federation of Labour has said the B.C. government's data indicates that while workers may take an average of 4.8 sick days annually, countries like New Zealand, Australia, Sweden and Germany have 10 days or more.
Bains said the government's decision to bring in a new policy on sick leave is good for businesses and workers.
"Paid sick leave is good for workers, good for employers and good for our economy," Bains said.
The provincial government says other changes coming in 2022 include making public transit free for kids under the age of 12.
It will also expand its $10-a-day child care program.
The federal government and B.C. reached a deal in July with an aim of reaching an average of $10-per-day child care in regulated spaces for children under six years old before 2027.
The deal aims to create 30,000 new spaces in B.C. in the next five years, with fees for regulated spaces cut in half by the end of 2022.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 1, 2022.
The Canadian Press
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said Harry Bains was the jobs minister.