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Frequently Asked Questions - April 9, 2020

As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to raise new questions among the membership, this second CSSEA Info containing the latest frequently asked questions round up our most commonly addressed member inquiries. Together with the original FAQs, we hope it can be used as a helpful one-stop resource for members continuing to address novel questions in their workplaces.

Despite messaging on best occupational health and safety (OHS) practices we are utilizing and the April 4, 2020 notice from the Medical Health Officer on how to stay safe in the social services setting, we are still experiencing a number of employees who are reluctant to come to work. Have other employers reported what they are doing to show employees that their safety is a high priority?

A number of employers have advised CSSEA that a fair amount of time is needed to both ensure that safe practices are adopted in the workplace and that this is conveyed to concerned employees. Time must be invested to communicate in both a group setting and in individual conversations specific to the worksites/programs. Some employers are explaining that the willingness of employees to remain at work as essential employees is a function of the trust that they have in them as an employer. Some employers have shared that they are prepared to demonstrate the best and safest practices to employees to show that they believe appropriate precautions are in place. Other employers have also put in place particular strategies for maintaining physical distancing and the separation of employees from possible exposure, like limiting the amount of staff at the office/worksite at one time; for example, placing staff on rotations that involve periods of time (eg. 14 days) not working, and periods of time (eg. 14 days) working in the office/worksite.

The April 4 notice from the MHO provides welcome guidance to employers and it should be made readily available to staff. Ultimately it is up to each employer to determine how to best follow the direction of the MHO and to be in compliance with WSBC regulations.…

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April 6, 2020 - Interim Guidance on COVID-19 Prevention and Control Issued for Social Services

The Ministry of Health and BC Centre for Disease Control recently released interim public health guidelines on best practices in the prevention and control of COVID-19 within social services facilities. The guidelines address the most effective ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19, as well as procedures when individuals are suspected or confirmed to have contracted COVID-19. Employers are advised to review the guidelines carefully and to distribute and post the document widely to employees and throughout their worksites. If you have any questions, please contact your HRLR Consultant or Advocate.

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2020 Community Social Services Awards of Excellence

After careful consideration and in consultation with both CSSEA’s Awards of Excellence member committee and TELUS, CSSEA has made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Community Social Services Awards of Excellence. As you may be aware, today was the official due date for submission of nominations but given the extraordinarily difficult circumstances the sector is facing, it is evident that encouraging members to divert their attention to submitting nominations would not be appropriate at this time. In addition, given the uncertainty as to when British Columbians can resume normal life, it remains unclear whether travel around the province to film awards videos, which would be required in July, would be possible.

We thank all members who took the time to complete nominations. We will consider all completed nominations and will allow amendments to all partially completed nominations in 2021. CSSEA will continue to monitor COVID-19 developments as they relate to the holding of our 2020 AGM and Fall Conference, currently scheduled for October 13-15 in Vancouver.

We thank TELUS for their support and appreciate their understanding of the impact that COVID-19 is having in our sector. In its continued effort to support members, TELUS has launched a number of virtual work services, which it is offering to members at no cost for 90 days. Those who are interested in hearing about virtual work products can contact Tyson Armstrong at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Anyone with awards-related questions can contact Doris Sun at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .…

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April 2, 2020 - COVID-19 and WorkSafeBC Claims - Important Information for Employers

While employers have third party benefit providers that are aware of the claims management process concerning COVID-19, employers are advised to consult this WorkSafeBC Claims link to access WorkSafeBC-related claims information.

Please ensure workers are following your existing Worker Injury Reporting policy and that your third party benefit provider is engaged throughout the process.

By accessing your WorkSafeBC Employer Portal the employer will be able to monitor the status of worker claim(s). Employers can use WorkSafeBC online services to manage claims. If employers have further questions after viewing the workers claim online, please call the WorkSafeBC Claims Officer.…

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COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions - April 1, 2020

Since issuing the recent CSSEA Info bulletins, members have asked a number of clarifying and additional questions. The following list of Frequently Asked Questions will address many of them, and CSSEA will issue additional bulletins based on emerging developments and questions.

Health and Safety

As essential services providers, it is critical that our services continue to be provided, but a number of employees are anxious about reporting to work now for fear of acquiring or transmitting COVID-19. What can we do?

Employers must continue to remain current on COVID-19 developments and rely on the most up-to-date information, recommendations and directions of the BC Provincial Health Officer (PHO), BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), WorkSafeBC (WSBC) and their funder(s) for best health and safety practices.

This will involve reviewing and updating policies, procedures, and practices in light of current information, and taking active steps to improve procedures where possible. These procedures will include:…

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April 1, 2020 - COVID-19 and Child Care for Essential Service Employees

Following the provincial government’s recent designation of community social services as an essential service, employees working in the sector who have children up to the age of five will now have priority access to child care placement. Essential service employees working to deliver critical services during the COVID-19 pandemic can now apply for urgent child care around BC through 38 community-based hubs known as Child Care Resource Referral (CCRR) centres.

Employees can apply for placement by completing an application online or by calling 1.888.338.6622 and selecting Option 4. After filling out the form, a representative from a corresponding CCRR centre will be in contact with available licensed child care options. As social services employees are considered “Tier 1,” they will have the highest priority in placement. Please note that while the matching service is free, child care fees will still apply. More details on this newly announced initiative is also available through this provincial news release. You are encouraged to distribute this bulletin widely within your work sites. If you have any questions, please contact your HRLR Consultant or Advocate.

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March 27, 2020 - COVID-19: Health and Safety Considerations

As the social services sector continues to navigate the unprecedented challenges brought on by COVID-19, employers remain responsible for safeguarding the health and safety of employees.

Employers are responsible for ensuring that they continue to comply with and consistently apply WorkSafeBC requirements. Therefore, the employer must ensure a risk assessment is completed and that employees are provided with the appropriate orientation, training and personal protective equipment prior to engaging in work. It is important to note that, because community social services agencies provide a wide spectrum of services and programs throughout the province, the nature of an employee’s occupation and function will be the primary basis for an effective risk assessment process. 

At the agency level please ensure collaborations with your Joint Occupational Health & Safety Committees and unions are active and involved throughout this process and staff are kept informed.…

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Mar 26 - COVID-19 Orders: Community Social Services Deemed Essential and Multi-Worksite Employees

For the first time in BC’s history, the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth is using the extraordinary powers under the Emergency Program Act to issue a series of ministerial orders to keep British Columbians safe. Today’s unprecedented measures make sure communities are taking the necessary steps in coordination with the Province should more action be required to combat COVID-19.

Essential Services Now Determined

The province is now the sole arbiter in deeming essential services, which are required services that should and are encouraged to remain open even if province-wide closures are ordered. Essential Services agencies must follow the orders and guidance provided by the Provincial Health Officer to ensure safe operations and to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. The following are social services providers deemed essential: 

  • businesses and non-profits that provide food, shelter, social and support services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise vulnerable individuals, such as:
  • food banks, community kitchens, and voluntary and community service providers;
  • health facilities, mental-health, substance-use and addictions services;
  • transitional, social and supportive housing, and single-room occupancy housing;
  • community services and outreach for immigrants, refugees, vulnerable populations and non-market housing, including businesses that sell, rent or repair assistive/mobility/medical devices, aids and/or supplies;
  • care for seniors, adults, children or individuals with disabilities;
  • care services for those persons providing essential services;
  • caregivers for children in care and out of care;
  • elder and disability care, including disabled service support for people with physical and cognitive disabilities;
  • residential care for individuals with mental health and substance use challenges, including licensed and registered treatment and recovery facilities;
  • government and non-profit service delivery staff who provide access to income supports for people in need of food and shelter;
  • residential and care facilities and shelters for seniors, adults, children and people with disabilities;
  • overdose prevention sites, clinical overdose prevention services or medical marijuana provision; and
  • businesses that sell, rent or repair assistive/mobility/medical devices, aids and/or supplies, or other products/services that support the health sector, including mental-health and addictions/counselling supports.


Employers with Staff Employed by Health

In follow up to CSSEA’s communication on Monday, March 23, 2020 notifying members that government was discussing a directive that would restrict employees working in health facilities from working in multiple sites and employers, a new Order from the Provincial Medical Health Officer clearly stipulates that while staff movement between long term care facilities is being limited, it does not (under section (H)) currently restrict the employment of those staff in the social services sector. Therefore, those employees are permitted and encouraged to continue to work in social services.
Members can access the government’s full news release online. CSSEA will continue to provide updates as the situation develops. If you have any questions, please contact your HRLR Consultant or Advocate.…

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March 22, 2020 - COVID-19 and Government Communications to Employers' Associations

Further to CSSEA’s March 20, 2020 CSSEA Info highlighting the Deputy Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction’s message of continuity of social services amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, we are sharing a similar email message from Allison Bond, Deputy Minister of Children and Family Development. The PSEC Secretariat also issued a letter to provincial employers’ associations and Crown Corporations reinforcing compensation and employment continuity as the province manages the challenging circumstances brought on by COVID-19. CSSEA anticipates further updates on funding in the coming week and will share details as soon as they are available.

In the meantime, CSSEA is asking employers to track self-isolation (quarantine) absences due to COVID-19, to help inform current and future staffing and funding decisions. Employers are advised to use this online tool to conduct the tracking and are reminded to complete it weekly to track new absences; any previously logged absence does not need to be logged again. If you have any questions, please contact Doris Sun, Director of Communications, at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .…

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March 20, 2020 - COVID-19 and Continuity of Services

The provincial government has reinforced its funding commitment to the social services sector in light of potential disruptions caused by COVID-19. In a message from David Galbraith, Deputy Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, he confirmed that provincial funding arrangements with contracted social services providers remain in place. Employers are asked to keep the lines of communication with their funding ministry or agency open, and are advised to consult funders to determine ways to adapt programs so services can still be delivered safely. If, after consultation with government, it is determined that services should be reduced or suspended due to the threat of COVID-19 transmission, employers will continue to receive funding. Employers are expected to pay staff and operating expenses with this continued funding. Those who experience increased costs due to staff shortages, increased overtime, or increases in client demand due to COVID-19 can receive incremental funding through to April 30, 2020. More information on funding for social services employers is expected next week.

Unions Proposing Local Agreements

CSSEA continues to remain actively engaged with government and the Union Bargaining Association and will provide updates as they become available. In the meantime, we remind employers not to sign individual agreements with unions. Any negotiations to vary the collective agreements must be done by or authorized by CSSEA. If members are approached by unions proposing an agreement, please notify your CSSEA Consultant or Advocate.

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March 19, 2020 - COVID-19 Update and Letter From Provincial Health Officer

Further to the CSSEA Info issued on March 16, 2020, we are providing the attached Ministry of Health letter, as well as an update based on new questions and developments related to COVID-19.

Overriding Principles During a Provincial Health Emergency

The province has declared a provincial health emergency under the Emergency Program Act.

During this COVID-19 outbreak it is important that agencies do their utmost to continue to deliver programs to clients and ensure the job security of staff. Closures, suspension or reduction of programs should only occur AFTER consultation with their funders (ie. MCFD Operating Managers, CLBC Liaison Analysts) and public health officials to assess the medical risks. We ask agencies to consider all options including the redeployment and reassignment of employees from affected programs. We also ask that employers do not move to lay off staff at this time, as we are waiting for further direction from the province.…

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Communications Contact

Doris Sun
Director of Communications
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.