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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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March 16, 2020 - COVID-19 Update

Further to the February/March 2020 CEO Update, CSSEA is providing an update on labour relations matters associated with the spread of COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus. As you know, events have been unfolding quickly over the past couple of weeks since the last CEO Update, with new issues emerging every few days based on developments around the globe and updated directions from the Provincial Medical Health Officer (MHO). We appreciate that members have been doing their best to manage in this rapidly changing environment. CSSEA will address below a number of issues raised over the past week and will also issue further updates in the future, based on new developments and advice from the Provincial MHO and government, and feedback from members and unions. The situation remains highly fluid and we encourage members to check the websites referenced below often for the latest news and developments.

General Health and Safety

As mentioned previously, employers’ overarching responsibility in times like this is to maintain quality services while supporting a safe and healthy workplace and remain compliant with occupational health and safety (OHS) legislation to prevent risk of exposure to communicable diseases. Best practices include more frequent and comprehensive cleaning, making hand sanitizers available at all worksites for employees, clients and visitors, and strongly encouraging regular hand washing and proper coughing/sneezing etiquette. Further, notices should be posted in prominent locations reminding staff and visitors to exercise proper hygiene and etiquette and to stay away from the worksite if not feeling well. Universal precautions should also be put in place, ensuring that a reasonable supply of gloves, masks and any other equipment appropriate for your worksites are readily available. And finally, reviewing with staff all of the health and safety steps taken on a regular basis will be helpful in increasing confidence in safety levels.

Working from Home

Even if asymptomatic, employers may act to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by having certain employees work from home where it is feasible to do so. Employees working from home would continue to be paid as usual for their work time. Prior to proceeding with these arrangements, employers should ensure that all relevant OHS requirements, risk assessments and privacy considerations have been considered and implemented. Please see the BC Government webpage on flexible workplaces to ensure that you have taken into account the relevant considerations.…

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Nominations Now Open for 2020 Community Social Services Awards of Excellence

CSSEA is now accepting nominations for the sixth annual BC Community Social Services Awards of Excellence, sponsored by TELUS. If you know outstanding individuals working in BC's publicly funded community social services sector deserving of recognition, we want to hear from you!

Who to Nominate

The Awards of Excellence celebrates four individuals who provide vital services to some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.

The award categories are:…

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Emerging Issues Relating to Employees' Use of Vehicles for Work

Over the past several months, there have been a number of emerging issues relating to employees’ use of motor vehicles for transporting clients in the course of their duties. Some of them have been triggered by changes to Motor Vehicle Act and ICBC regulations, and others have emerged based on employer questions to CSSEA staff. This CSSEA Info will consolidate the issues and answers.

Class 4 Driver’s License Requirements for Employees

Earlier this year, clarification was provided about the requirement for employees to hold (and be reimbursed for) Class 4 driver’s licenses to support the transportation of clients in typical “2 axle” vehicles such as an employee’s own vehicle or vehicle provided by an employer (not a bus). The legal opinion received by CSSEA concluded that unless an employer’s service involves charging fees specifically for the transportation of clients, the vehicle and driver would not typically require a Class 4 License. See this CSSEA Info for more information.

This bulletin was followed up when changes to ride-sharing rules were introduced to allow for companies such as Uber and Lyft to operate in BC. Upon receiving a supplemental legal opinion, CSSEA advised that the requirements for a Class 4 driver’s license had not changed. This CSSEA Info addresses the topic.…

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Change to Provincial Influenza Prevention Policy

At this time of year, community social services and health sector employers activate their influenza prevention policies. In recent years, these policies have required mandatory flu vaccination or alternatively, the wearing of masks in patient/client areas, consistent with the direction of the Provincial Medical Health Officer.

Note that this year, there has been a change in the mandatory nature of the policy. Affected employees are still required to report whether they have received the vaccination, and are still expected to be vaccinated. However, while failure to report is subject to disciplinary measures, the failure to be vaccinated or alternatively wear a mask is no longer subject to discipline. Under the amended provincial policy, the emphasis is on education and voluntary compliance with prevention efforts, and depending on compliance rates, a mandatory policy may still be reinstated in the future.

Please review your influenza prevention policy and make changes consistent with this new provincial policy, and remind employees of expectations.…

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Improvement in Mileage Allowance, 2% GWI and $20 Million LWR effective April 1, 2020

Mileage Allowance

Mileage reimbursement rate will increase by one (1) cent per kilometer, effective April 1, 2020, for Community Living Services, General Services and Indigenous Services Collective Agreements.

  Community Living Services/General Services Indigenous Services
Effective April 1, 2020 $0.50 $0.54

2.0% General Wage Increase + $20 Million Low Wage Redress (LWR)

CSSEA and CSSBA have agreed on the distribution of the second of three annual $20 million Low Wage Redress fund (wage schedules outlining the hourly wages are attached) effective April 1, 2020. The agreement provides for the following distribution:

  • All JJEP Non-Paraprofessional Classification will receive a 3.5% LWR increase plus 2% general wage increase effective April 1, 2020.…

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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.