Yukon’s Making Work Safe panel has delivered its final report. The report outlines the panel’s recommendations for establishing a permanent paid sick leave program in the territory and makes recommendations to be incorporated into the Employment Standards Act.
On Jan. 31, members of the joint panel — Yukon NDP MLA Emily Tredger and Richard Mostyn, minister of community services — held a press conference to present the report that was looking into ways to provide paid sick leave to more employees in the territory.
The committee was in unanimous agreement that people staying home when sick is in the best interest of individuals, their families and the community as a whole.
The panel struck out last summer to make recommendations on how to best support workers when sick and how to make benefits universally available to all kinds of workers (contract, part-time and gig workers) without negatively affecting employers and their ability to stay in business.
A consulting firm from Victoria supported them from October onwards with research and survey consultation technologies.
After the jurisdictional review and public consultation was complete, the panel made 22 recommendations.
The recommendations are broken into 10 parts — what constitutes a sick day; how to include all types of workers; how many days are fair; how it will be paid; who qualifies and how accruals work; how co-funding with government might work; worker rights; worker responsibilities; and employers’ rights and responsibilities.
Another four additional recommendations apply to education and awareness, and the last one says that additional paid sick leave measures could be introduced during a public health emergency and/or state of emergency.
In presenting the report Mostyn was frank that “significant policy work remains to be done.”
“I’m going to bring it up with my colleagues and look at how much influence government is going to have over this, and figure out how businesses would like to help pay for it,” he said.
It appears the chambers of commerce have yet to weigh in. Denny Kobyashi, executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Commerce, said the minister has invited the chamber to discuss the program but they will be meeting as a board before commenting. He did say that some members have commented individually.
The Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce did not return calls to the News.
The panel and the report is a joint caucus endeavour, and that is why the report is not found on the government website, but is on both caucus websites instead. The Department of Community Services paid for the consultants.
The report was an aspect of the Liberals’ post-election confidence and supply agreement (CASA) with the NDP.
When the Liberals tied with the Yukon Party for the number of seats in the Yukon legislature, the CASA agreement was signed to ensure NDP support for the Liberal government. The CASA expires one year from now, on Jan. 31, 2023.
The agreement lists several initiatives which have been rapidly introduced — a rent cap, minimum wage increase, a supervised consumption site, and now, the panel on paid sick leave.
The recommendations in the Making Work Safe report are still not ready for legal language into the Employment Standards Act. Policy work and implementation planning processes need to be worked out, but since it is a CASA commitment, the drafting of these amendments could jump the queue and get done at record speed.
Contact Lawrie Crawford at firstname.lastname@example.org