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New PHO Direction on Mandatory Vaccination Disclosure and COVID-19 Testing, and Mandatory Vaccinations for Workers in Long-Term Care and Assisted Living

The Provincial Health Officer (PHO) and the Minister of Health announced on August 12, 2021 that a new PHO Order will be issued requiring all workers in specific health care settings (eg. Long-term care and assisted living) to report their vaccination status to public health through their worksite. On August 20, 2021, a new PHO Order was issued addressing mandatory vaccination disclosure specifically in long-term care and assisted living worksites, the same worksites currently subject to the PHO’s “single site staffing” order. There are about a dozen CSSEA member worksites (assisted living) that are covered by this August 20, 2021 Order.

Impacted employers are required to provide the PHO with confirmation of their staff vaccination status by September 1, 2021. The PHO requires staff working in long-term care and assisted living to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by October 12, 2021. Until October 12, all unvaccinated staff will be required to wear personal protective equipment and be tested regularly for COVID-19. A policy, found below at Appendix A, has been developed for these employers to ensure consistent provincial implementation.

While there are no immediate plans to expand the requirement for vaccination disclosure and mandatory vaccination beyond those facilities already covered by the single site orders, the PHO may extend the requirements to new services/worksites in the future as circumstances require. As CSSEA members can appreciate, we are in the midst of a rapidly evolving context for British Columbia’s COVID-19 response and CSSEA will continue to provide additional information as it becomes available.

The CSSEA member assisted living worksites are governed by the following:

  1. Effective immediately, all outside support or personal services providers who do not provide official proof of vaccination must be excluded from the facility.
  2. By September 1, 2021, employers must provide the PHO through its data entry portal with the names, birthdates, and personal health number (PHN) of all residents and staff (including those on leaves). If employers do not already have all of this information, employees must provide it. This will allow the PHO to review the vaccination status of employees and report back to the employer for the purposes of implementing this Order.
  3. Effective September 8, 2021, all unvaccinated employees of the facilities (and any other workers who attend there) are subject to preventive measures which include a requirement to wear a mask and be rapid tested every shift. Positive rapid test results will trigger a requirement to leave the facility as soon as possible and get COVID tested. Any unvaccinated employee who refuses to wear a mask or get tested must be excluded from the facility.
  4. Immediately implement the Vaccination Status Reporting and Preventive Measures Policy - Appendix A.

A copy of the August 20, 2021 PHO Order can be found here:

If you have any questions, please contact your CSSEA Consultant/Advocate.…

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Expanded Whistleblower Protections Will Not Apply to Community Social Services Sector

Government has announced an expansion of the scope of the Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA), which provides a legally protected way for current and former BC public sector employees to report serious or systemic issues of wrongdoing to their supervisor, a designated officer or the BC Ombudsperson. PIDA, which currently applies to staff working in government ministries and independent offices of the legislature, is set to expand in a phased approach starting April 2022; it will eventually cover tribunals, health authorities, the education sector, Crown Corporations, and the like. Government has determined, though, that the Community Social Services sector will not be included in this plan. While this does not preclude individual employers from having individual whistleblower protection policies and procedures in place at their worksites, PIDA will not be applied to our sector's employers.\

To access a copy of the government’s recent PIDA announcement, click here. If you have any further questions, please contact your HRLR Consultant/Advocate.

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Registration Now Open for 2021 Virtual AGM and Conference!

Registration is now open for the 2021 AGM and Conference, Resilience Builds Strength, which is set to take place October 19-21. (AGM Divisional Sessions will once again take place one week prior to the general AGM session, on October 12.) With the ongoing uncertainty related to large in-person gatherings, we have made the decision to hold this year’s conference virtually. It is our hope that next year’s conference in Vancouver will once again be the large gathering that we have long missed and are excited to resume.

With guidance from CSSEA’s member AGM Planning Committee, we put together a diverse program that will appeal to a broad audience of community social services sector employers working at different seniority levels. The event will be hosted by Carol Ann Fried, an experienced facilitator who will incorporate a number of networking ice breakers to ensure the virtual event is engaging and dynamic. The conference will feature a focused, single stream of learning, as well as access to our sixth annual Community Social Services Awards of Excellence. Registrants will receive access to the full two-day event for a single registration fee.

Take Advantage of Early Bird Rates

Once again, CSSEA is offering an early bird rate of $79 for those who register before September 24. The regular conference fee will be $99. Full program and registration details can be found on our conference website. 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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BC Government Recognizing National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

On June 3, 2021, the federal government announced that Bill C-5, An Act to amend the Bills of Exchange Act, the Interpretation Act and the Canada Labour Code (National Day for Truth and Reconciliation), had received Royal Assent and that the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation will be observed by federal government employees and by federally regulated workplaces every year, starting on September 30, 2021.

The BC Government recognizes the importance of honouring a day for Truth and Reconciliation. As such, government has advised all provincial public sector employers that they should recognize September 30th, as a holiday for all employees who are normally entitled to provincial and federal holidays. It should be noted that recognizing September 30th this year is an interim measure while the Province begins to engage with Indigenous partners and the business and labour communities to determine the most appropriate way to commemorate this day going forward. This direction will ensure consistency across BC’s public sector given that there are collective agreements with provisions respecting federally recognized holidays.

Members with further questions on funding for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation are asked to contact their funders.

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Education and Training Funds Available for Community Social Services Employers and Employees

CSSEA and the Community Social Services Bargaining Association of Unions (CSSBA) are pleased to announce that the Community Social Services Labour and Education Fund (LAEF) is now accepting applications for education and training funding. Details on the fund, eligibility criteria and application forms can be found on the new website: https://laef-bcgeu.nationbuilder.com/

What is the LAEF?

The Community Social Services Labour Adjustment and Education Fund is a joint initiative of CSSEA and the CSSBA. The purpose of the LAEF is to enhance the skills of frontline community social services workers by providing relevant professional development; it also prioritizes and offers additional support and retraining for workers impacted by layoffs, downsizing, or restructuring so workers can continue to be employed in the community social services sector.

Who Can Apply for Funding?

The constituent unions of the CSSBA, CSSEA, employers, individuals or groups may apply for funding. Education and training must be relevant to continuing work in the community social services sector. All applications will be reviewed by the LAEF Joint Steering Committee based on the eligibility criteria and funding amounts set out by CSSEA and the CSSBA. For a full list of eligibility criteria, please refer to the above website. Applications will be reviewed on a regular, ongoing basis until funds are exhausted.

How Much Funding is Available to Me?

The following chart illustrates the lifetime maximum amount of funding available to applicants. If an individual or group applies for and receives a lesser amount than the maximum available, they may submit additional application(s) in the future.…

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Labour Relations Board (LRB) Dismisses Union Application to Certify Additional Bargaining Unit

In early March, the HEU applied to certify some non-union worksites at Options Community Services Society (Options), a member of CSSEA’s General Services division. The employer was already certified to the BCGEU at a number of other worksites and programs. At the certification hearing held on March 3, 2021, CSSEA, on behalf of the employer, objected to the HEU application to establish an additional bargaining unit at Options. This was not because CSSEA or the employer was resisting unionization but rather because the establishment of an additional bargaining unit and bargaining agent (union) at an already certified employer would contribute to “industrial instability” and potential confusion in the administration of the same sectoral agreement.  

The preference to minimize the number of bargaining units/agents at an employer and instead expand an existing bargaining unit, CSSEA argued, is consistent with LRB law and policy as it developed in other similar sectoral bargaining sectors, such as the health sector, where the LRB had rejected efforts to “proliferate” bargaining units and agents at a single employer. 

However, up until 2019, the LRB had been allowing proliferation of bargaining units/agents when second or third unions applied to represent non-union employees at CSSEA members. The most recent example was at Community Connections Support Services 2 Ltd, where the LRB granted the BCGEU an additional certification despite the UFCW being the incumbent union at the employer. CSSEA appealed this decision to the BC Supreme Court and has been waiting for a hearing date due to Court backlog during the pandemic.…

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June 18, 2021: New Details on Temporary COVID-19 Sick Leave Reimbursement Program for Employers

Further to the June 1, 2021 CSSEA Info, which outlined amendments to the Employment Standards Act (ESA) that includes three days of paid COVID-19-related sick leave for employees who are not entitled to paid sick leave, government has now provided more information on how employers will be reimbursed for sick leave days paid.

As mentioned, the sick leave plans for unionized employees “meet or exceed” the new paid sick leave provisions of the Act, so there is no requirement for CSSEA member employers to apply these provisions to their unionized employees. Furthermore and as previously communicated, the provincial government encourages employers  to voluntarily grant sick leave to unionized employees who are otherwise ineligible for sick leave on the basis set out in the June 1 CSSEA Info, on a temporary basis from May 20, 2021 until December 31, 2021. For non-union employees, the new sick leave provisions form mandatory minimum provincial standards. The funding process for reimbursement of sick leave pay to non-union employees is set out in this government news release.

For CSSEA members who voluntarily grant paid sick leave to unionized employees who are otherwise ineligible for sick leave, the funding process continues to be as set out in the June 1 CSSEA Info. Government and provincial funders anticipate that CSSEA member agencies should be able to accommodate the temporary additional leave obligations within their current annual funding allocations as the incidence of COVID-19-related sickness abates due to extensive vaccination rates across the province. However, if an agency is facing acute operating pressures due to a COVID-19 outbreak or significant costs related to the new ESA COVID-19 paid leave, they are encouraged to discuss their situation directly with their funding ministries or agencies.…

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June 1, 2021: Amendments to the Employment Standards Act - Paid Sick Leave

On May 20, 2021, the provincial government further amended the Employment Standards Act (ESA) to provide employees with up to three days of COVID-19-related paid sick/ /isolation/exposure leave until December 31, 2021. This constitutes new minimum standards for all employees in the province, except those covered by a collective agreement where the sick leave provisions “meet or exceed” this new minimum standard.

The purpose of these changes is to support employees to stay home when feeling ill during the pandemic – consistent with public health advice; to bridge the gap in pay for those employees who qualify for the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit; and to enable future paid sick leave days to be established in 2022.

The two key changes are:
1. Temporary paid COVID-19-related leave (section 52.121 added); and
2. Future paid general sick days (section 49.1 amended).…

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May 19, 2021: COVID-19 - Vaccination FAQs

Please note: the following FAQs are provided as of May 19, 2021 and are subject to change based on emerging developments. As there have been many changes to best practices experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, please be sure to check CSSEA’s website on a regular basis to ensure you have access to the most up-to-date information.

Can employers require employees to get vaccinated for COVID-19?

No. Similar to current seasonal influenza prevention policies, employer direction is to be focused on encouragement and education. Public Health is encouraging all British Columbians to learn about the benefits and safety of the vaccine and to consider vaccination to protect themselves and others.

Will I be able to take leave to get my vaccination?

Yes. All employees may take reasonable paid time off, up to 3 hours, to get the COVID-19 vaccine based on recent amendments to the Employment Standards Act (Section 52.13). If requested by the employer, the employee must, as soon as practicable, provide reasonably sufficient proof that the employee is entitled to the leave. The employer, however, cannot request that an employee provide a note from a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner or registered nurse for the purposes of supporting a request for leave under the recently amended Act.

Employees should discuss their need for the leave with as much notice as possible so the employer can consider and address any operational impacts and whether there is a need to explore scheduling alternative vaccination appointments.…

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April 21, 2021: COVID-19 - Employees to be Eligible for Paid Leave to Obtain Vaccination

On April 19, 2021, the provincial government introduced amendments to the Employment Standards Act (ESA) that will provide employees with a paid leave of absence so they can obtain their COVID-19 vaccinations.

Bill 3 provides employees with up to three hours of paid leave to be vaccinated against COVID-19, effective and retroactive to April 19, 2021. It does not provide paid leave for time taken off work to be vaccinated before April 19, 2021.

Scheduling Time Off for Employee Vaccinations

Employers are encouraged to take a reasonable and collaborative approach with employees when scheduling time off for them to receive the COVID-19 vaccines, with the goal of minimizing client service disruptions.…

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April 1, 2021: COVID-19 - Government Expands Job-Protected Leave for Employees

Government has just announced changes to the Employment Standards Regulation that will provide protection against job loss for individuals needing to take time off work to get vaccinated for COVID-19. The change will also include protection against job loss for individuals needing time off to take a dependant family member to get vaccinated. These latest changes stem from government’s March 2020 amendment of the Employment Standards Act, which provided unpaid job-protected leave in various situations in response to the pandemic.

Employees will now also be able to take unpaid job-protected leave if they need to care for other family members due to COVID-19, not just a child or dependent adult as previously defined. In addition, the Regulation will now allow employees with underlying conditions, who are undergoing treatment, or who have contracted another illness that makes them more susceptible to COVID-19 to take the leave. With these changes, BC’s Regulation now fully aligns with the federal Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit and the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit. For more information, please consult government’s latest News Release.

Recent PHO Orders

Members are also invited to view a town hall meeting in which Dr. Danièle Behn Smith, Deputy Provincial Health Officer, Indigenous Health, addressed key questions on current Provincial Health Officer Orders. A recording of the meeting can be found here.…

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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.