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OPINION – BCGEU welcomes the return of provincial mask mandate, calls for employers to ensure safe worksites

Burnaby (Coast Salish Territories) – Members of the B.C. General Employees’ Union (BCGEU) are pleased by the reissuing of a provincial mask mandate for indoor, public spaces, and calling it an important layer of protection for front-line workers.

“Vaccines are an amazing tool in stopping the spread of COVID-19, but many essential service worksites will not be covered by the ‘proof of vaccination’ program and will continue to assist the public regardless of their vaccination status,” said Paul Finch, BCGEU Treasurer. “A mask mandate will go a long way toward ensuring the safety of front-line workers.”

In a recent survey of BCGEU members, over 75 per cent of respondents supported calling for the return of an indoor mask mandate in B.C.

The BCGEU has been one of the foremost organizational voices calling for an indoor mask mandate in B.C. The union began urging the provincial government to institute an indoor mask mandate in the summer of 2020 and continued to advocate for the reinstatement of the mandate after it was lifted in July 2021.

“We know it takes a number of measures to maintain a safe worksite – vaccines, masks, access to PPE, paid sick time, distancing, and other measures – and all workers have a right to safe, healthy workplaces,” said Finch. “BCGEU members are calling on government and employers to step up to protect workers until community transmission of the virus is truly halted.”

The BCGEU represents over 82,000 members in a number of sectors across B.C.’s economy including staff at BC Liquor and Cannabis Stores, Service BC centres, private and post-secondary schools, and other workplaces that serve members of the public and will not be part of the province’s ‘proof of vaccination’ program set to roll out in September.

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