04 June 2020
The excerpted article was written
McCarthy Tétrault LLP
As BC begins Phase 2 of its Restart Plan, the Provincial Health Officer and WorkSafeBC (“WSBC”) have published the following orders, guidance and resources relevant to employers.
Orders by the Provincial Health Officer
On May 14, 2020, Dr. Henry issued an order cancelling her earlier April 16, 2020 order that operators close all personal service establishments and stop providing personal services in any location. Personal service establishments may open effective May 19, 2020.
On May 14, 2020, Dr. Henry enacted an order regarding workplace safety plans (the “COVID-19 Safety Plans“). Under the order, an employer must post a copy of its COVID-19 Safety Plan on its website, if it has one, and at all of its workplaces so that it may be reviewed by workers, individuals who attend the workplace and members of the public. On request, an employer must also provide a copy of its COVID-19 Safety Plan to a health officer or a WSBC officer.
On May 15, 2020, Dr. Henry issued an order allowing restaurants and bars to open subject to conditions, including implementing physical distancing measures. Patrons must be able to maintain a distance of two metres from staff as well as one another, unless they are in the same party. Further, establishments cannot exceed 50 percent of their usual capacity of patrons present at one time, and they cannot hold events that include more than 50 people. If practicable, establishments must retain contact information for one member of every party of patrons for thirty days in the event that the medical health officer needs it for contact tracing. Finally, nightclubs must remain closed. The order came into effect on May 19, 2020.
The Provincial Health Officer may take enforcement action against any party that violates these orders under Part 4, Division 6 of the Public Health Act.
The BC Ministry of Health and the BC Centre for Disease Control recently published guidance for employers and workers in various sectors, including natural resources, farming and hotels.
The guidance for natural resource sector work camps includes conducting a COVID-19 workplace risk assessment for field operations, worker education, increased hygiene and cleaning practices, physical distancing, transportation for workers, guidance for workers while working, guidance for workers during breaks or while in communal spaces, guidance for situations where maintaining physical distance of two metres is difficult, guidance on handling tools and equipment, guidance on COVID-19 and worker accommodation, information regarding First Nations and First Nations Health Centres, physical distancing and local communities, information about face masks, and what employers must do to monitor worker health.
The guidance for farms and farm workers includes conducting a COVID-19 workplace risk assessment for the farm operation, worker education, guidance for training workers and employers on hygiene, guidance for increased hygiene, guidance for increased cleaning, physical distancing, transportation for workers, guidance for workers while working, guidance for workers during breaks or while in communal spaces, guidance for situations where maintaining physical distance of two metres is difficult, guidance on handling tools and equipment, guidance on COVID-19 hygiene and worker accommodation, information regarding First Nations and First Nations Health Centres, physical distancing and local communities, information about face masks, and what employers must do to monitor worker health. The guidance acknowledges that physical distancing between farm workers may be difficult in certain situations. Where workers are required to work together in close proximity to complete tasks, employers should form work pods (of six or fewer workers, if possible) to limit close contact within a small group. Similarly, where workers are required to travel together in vehicles to the work site, workers must travel in designated vehicles with their work pod and frequently clean and disinfect vehicles.
Guidance for the hotel sector covers general cleaning, housekeeping and laundry, waste management, food and beverage services, spas and salons, pools, fitness centres and playgrounds, staff health, and communication, signage and posters.
WSBC Guidance and Resources
WSBC has recently issued guidance relevant to Phase 2, including about COVID-19 Safety Plans, controlling exposure of the virus to workers, and new communication and training requirements.
COVID-19 Safety Plans
Employers must involve frontline workers, joint health and safety committees and supervisors when creating protocols for their workplace. WSBC has published a six-step process to help employers create their COVID-19 Safety Plan. The WSBC template is a fillable PDF that employers can use to develop their policies, guidelines and procedures. Employers are not required to have a formal plan in place prior to beginning operations, but are expected to develop their COVID-19 Safety Plan while taking steps to protect their workers’ safety. WSBC will consider enforcement measures if employers fail to take measures to protect workers from COVID-19.
Employers should develop policies on who can be at the workplace, including policies on sick workers and recent travel. Employers do not have to implement health monitoring, such as temperatures checks or medical questionnaires, and should be aware of privacy issues if they choose to collect potentially sensitive medical information. WSBC notes that wearing masks is not mandatory for workers outside healthcare workplaces, and that masks and other personal protective equipment (“PPE”) should not be used as the only control measure. Instead, employers should offer the following types of protection, listed in order of greatest efficacy: i) eliminate risks (i.e. by limiting the number of workers at any one time, and enforce physical distancing), ii) implement engineering controls (i.e. installing barriers such as Plexiglas to separate people), iii) establish administrative controls (i.e. cleaning protocols) and iv) supply PPE such as non-medical masks.
Communication and Training
Employers should provide information to workers describing how they are managing COVID-19, including COVID-19 symptoms and a reminder not to go to work if workers have them, occupancy limits in common areas and other physical distancing measures, how specific tasks have been changed to prevent the potential spread of the virus, and instructions about hygiene. Employers are also responsible for training workers in tasks that they have changed as part of their COVID-19 Safety Plan, such as limits on the number of people in certain areas of the workplace and cleaning expectations for common areas and equipment. Where workplaces interface with customers, employers should consider adding signage, floor markings and other directions to ensure customers are maintaining physical distance from workers.
VANCOUVER _ Fans of car-sharing services in British Columbia are about to get another option within weeks of the closure of two other car-share businesses in the province.
Turo, which describes itself as the world’s largest peer-to-peer car sharing platform, says it is preparing for “imminent expansion” into B.C.
A statement from the company says it has secured coverage from the Insurance Corporation of B.C. in advance of its launch but doesn’t say when its platform will be available.
Turo’s announcement follows cancellation of Boston-based Zipcar in Vancouver and Victoria on May 1 and closure of Share Now, formerly Car2Go, across North America earlier this year.
Turo has been operating in several other provinces since 2016 and says it has 850,000 members and 35,000 cars in Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia.
Users can book cars owned by Turo members, which the company says will “put Canada’s 23 million vehicles to better use.”
The company says participating car owners earn an average of $620 a month in regions where the program is already operating.
When Zipcar announced its departure, the company said the “complexities” of operating in B.C., including local insurance regulations, were behind its decision.
Cedric Mathieu, vice president and head of Turo’s Canadian operations says it’s time B.C. enjoyed the benefits of peer-to-peer car-sharing that have been available in four other provinces for four years.
“With the recent exit of car-sharing platforms from B.C. we’re happy to step in and answer the demand with a car-sharing model that makes more economical and environmental sense and that does not inflict additional pressure on cities’ parking infrastructures,” Mathieu says in the statement.
In addition to what Turo says is a comprehensive insurance package reached with the provincial insurer and included in every reservation, the company says it carries out extensive screenings of would-be renters and offers round-the-clock roadside assistance.
It has also implemented new policies linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, aimed at ensuring the safety of renters and owners through enhanced cleaning and disinfection.
Turo says information about its launch and details for those interested in becoming car hosts will be posted on the Turo app or at turo.com.
This story by The Canadian Press was first published May 28, 2020
VICTORIA _ The COVID-19 pandemic has sideswiped British Columbia’s public vehicle insurer, but the attorney general says it’s too soon to assess the potential damage.
David Eby, who is also the minister responsible for the Insurance Corporation of B.C., says claim costs are down about $160 million because there have been fewer accidents as drivers stay home.
But he says plunging prices on global stock markets have hit the corporation’s investment portfolio.
Eby says a clear picture of the pandemic’s affect on ICBC won’t be known until the end of the fiscal year in March.
At that time, he says ICBC will be in a better position to decide whether drivers will get a one-time rebate or if the money should be contributed to the corporation’s depleted surplus.
ICBC president Nicolas Jimenez says the corporation remains on track in implementing changes announced earlier this year that could save drivers about $400 a year.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 14, 2020.
With fewer vehicles on our roads right now, drivers may be tempted to speed. Even though it seems safer with fewer cars on the road, it isn’t. Speeding increases your risk of crashing and reduces the amount of time you have to react to the unexpected. ICBC is asking that we all do our part to prevent crashes, keep people safe, and avoid putting additional pressure on B.C.’s first responders and medical resources.
Every year, 82 people are killed in speed-related crashes, making speed the number one cause of car crash fatalities in B.C.*
Police have observed an increase in drivers speeding since B.C. declared a state of emergency due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This is why ICBC, the B.C. government and police are launching a month-long campaign focusing on speed and urging drivers to slow down.
Speeding is a concern for all road users, not just drivers. Many families are taking this time to get outside for walks or bike rides so it’s important for drivers to be extra cautious and look out for pedestrians and cyclists.
The campaign includes radio and digital advertising plus social media reminding drivers that the faster you go, the easier it is to make a mistake. Remember, if you must go out, check your speed and drive within the limits.
Learn interesting facts, get tips and more on icbc.com.
Chief Officer Neil Dubord, Chair of the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee
“While everyday life has recently changed for many in B.C., nothing has changed when it comes to road safety. Speed, distracted driving and impaired driving are just a few of the high-risk driving behaviours that put everyone at risk. With the use of intersection safety cameras and dedicated police agencies throughout the province, drivers are sure to be caught and held accountable when they make the choice to disregard the rules of the road.”
Lindsay Matthews, ICBC’s Vice-President Public Affairs and Driver Licensing
“Whether you’re a driver, rider, cyclist or pedestrian – we can all play our part over the coming months by only travelling when necessary, and taking extra care on every journey. Driving over the speed limit really doesn’t get you there noticeably sooner, and instead increases your chances of crashing.”
On average, 26 people are killed every year in the Lower Mainland from speed-related crashes.
On average, 12 people are killed every year on Vancouver Island from speed-related crashes.
On average, 27 people are killed every year in the Southern Interior from speed-related crashes.
On average, 18 people are killed every year in North Central B.C from speed-related crashes.
*Police-reported data, five-year average from 2014 to 2018.
Speed includes unsafe speed, exceeding