B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains (Tom Fletcher/Black Press Media)

B.C. government adds staff to field worker pay complaints

‘Self-help kit’ a barrier to migrant workers, Harry Bains says

The B.C. government is adding 60 staff to help workers with their allegations of workplace mistreatment, eliminating the “self-help kit” that required workers to document their own hours and pay, Labour Minister Harry Bains says.

Migrant workers and new immigrants have a particularly hard time with the paperwork involved in an application to the Employment Standards Branch, and no one should have to deal directly with their employer after they have been short-changed on their pay, Bains said Wednesday.

The B.C. Liberal government introduced the self-help kit in 2003 and since then, the number of worker complaints has fallen from 11,000 a year to 6,000, Bains told a group of migrant worker supporters in Surrey.

The current B.C. budget includes an additional $15 million for additional staff, and 27 people have been hired so far to get the branch to “investigate in a real-time fashion” when employment standards may be violated, Bains said.

RELATED: Kids under 16 can keep working for now, Bains says

RELATED: B.C. NDP keeps secret ballot for union certifications

Saleem Spindari, manager for refugees and migrant worker programs at Mosaic, a charity assisting new arrivals to B.C., said his staff frequently deal with self-help kit applications for migrant workers.

Gathering documents and calculating lost wages can take experienced staff more than three hours, and it’s unlikely that a migrant worker without language skills would be able to do it, Spindari said.

B.C. Liberal labour critic John Martin said while the opposition has difficulty with some parts of the NDP government’s overhaul of labour and employment laws, he agrees with eliminating the self-help kit.

“The consensus was it’s a good move,” Martin said. “None of the people I talked to were really in favour of them.”

Bains said the majority of employers in B.C. are honest with their employee dealings, but a few “bad apples” get an advantage over those who follow the rules without adequate enforcement of labour standards.


@tomfletcherbc
[email protected]

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nuxalk Nation celebrates first carpentry graduates

11 students graduated from the community’s first carpentry program

Bella Coola leave their mark on All Native Basketball Tournament as they reach Intermediate final

Nuxalk Braves bring home a strong second place finish; three individual awards for Marlon Edgar-Apps

Case of whooping cough confirmed in Bella Coola

Babies under the age of one and pregnant women in their last trimester are at particular risk

Anahim Lake RCMP: ‘This type of crime is not normally seen in our small, tight-knit community’

Maverick West facing attempted murder charge in connection with Anahim Lake incident

All Native Basketball: Finals matchups start to take shape as title games approach

Two Prince Rupert sides in contention, while two dynasties are on the brink

VIDEO: 7 things you need to know about the 2020 B.C. budget

Surplus of $227 million with big spending on infrastructure and capital projects

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

What’s in a name? The story of Revelstoke’s Mt. Begbie

It’s likely the iconic peak had several Indigenous peoples’ names before settlers arrived

Budget 2020: B.C. Liberals blast ‘Netflix tax,’ lack of economic plan

ICBC rates still go up, except in election year, Shirley Bond says

Teen snowmobiler from Kelowna found after air force’s overnight search

The teen had been missing since just after 6 p.m. on Monday

Two law enforcement trucks ‘deliberately’ set on fire in northern B.C., RCMP say

Police say they have video evidence of a person in the area of the truck fires

Nanaimo man wins lotto, plans to buy $16,000 fridge

Curtis Wright a winner in Lotto 6/49 draw

Three protesters arrested after blocking driveway at premier’s home

Protestors claimed they would make a citizen’s arrest of the Premier, according to West Shore RCMP

Budget 2020: B.C. adds tax to sweet drinks and sodas

All soda, vending machine drinks will be subject to higher PST

Most Read