COVID-19 Updates

Our goal with this page is to keep you informed on this ever changing situation. While we will continue to send email updates, we cannot include every piece of information in every email, so, here you will find the information contained within all previous emails as copies of those emails.

Please note that while we will make every effort to keep this page up to date, the information available is rapidly changing, and there may be times where the information becomes outdated faster than we can update it. Therefore, please ensure you are staying up to date with the Federal, Provincial, and local regulations.

Email Updates

Update #1, “COVID-19” (March 13th)

COVID-19 - 20190313

 

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Sent March 13, 2020

Update #2, “Office Closure” (March 18th)

COVID-19 - Office Closure 20200318

 

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Sent March 18, 2020

Update #3, “Union Meetings” (March 18th)

COVID-19 - Union Meetings 20200318

 

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Sent March 18, 2020

Update #4, “COVID-19 Update” (March 20th)

COVID-19 Update 20200320

 

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Sent March 20, 2020

Update #5, “Construction Industry Guidelines” (March 26th)

COVID 19 20200326 - Construction Guidelines

 

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Sent March 26, 2020

Update #6, “WorkSafe BC Guidelines & New Webpage” (March 27th)

COVID 19 20200326 - WorkSafe BC Bulletin

 

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Sent March 27, 2020

Update #7, “BC Building Trades Update” (March 30th)

COVID 19 20200330 - BCBT Info

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Sent March 30, 2020


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What Are The Symptoms?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough.

Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea.

These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell.

Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing.

Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness.

People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.

Who is At Risk?

You are at a greater risk for COVID-19 if
  • You have recently traveled to a COVID-19 impacted area
  • You have been in close contact with a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19
  • You have been in close contact with a person with acute respiratory illness who has been to a COVID-19 impacted area

If you experience the symptoms above AND/OR you have a higher risk of developing COVID-19, please contact your health care provider. You can also call 811 to speak with a registered nurse.

Why Are Construction Sites Open?

Under the province’s Emergency Program Act, construction work has been deemed an essential service.

Essential services are those daily services that are essential to preserving life, health, public safety and basic societal functioning.

While the Provincial Health Officer has ordered some types of businesses to close, construction workers are considered non-health essential service providers. All construction work must continue to abide the orders and guidance provided by the Provincial Health Officer to ensure safe operations and reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19. This is not optional.

More information here.

What Are My Employer’s Responsibilities?

On March 21st, the Provincial Health Authority released the following guidelines for employers:
 
  • There should be no more than 50 people in the same space in any circumstances.
  • Where possible employees should maintain a distance of 2 metres apart from each other.
  • Post signage that limits the number of occupants in any elevator to four people at a time.
  • Reduce in‐person meetings and other gatherings and hold site meetings in open spaces or outside.
  • Increase the number of handwashing stations and post signage that identifies their location.
  • Maintain a list of employees that are currently working on sites and update this list daily.
  • All common areas and surfaces should be cleaned at the end of each day. Examples include washrooms, shared offices, common tables, desks, light switches, and door handles.
  • Anyone with COVID‐19 like symptoms such as sore throat, fever, sneezing, or coughing must self‐isolate at home for 14 days.

Section 4.85 of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation does provide for a minimum standard around the provision of washrooms and hand washing facilities. Where plumbed facilities are impracticable, employers must provide access to portable washroom and hand‐washing facilities, those facilities must be maintained in good working order, and must be provided with the supplies necessary for their use.

Employers should reassess their work environment every day and keep updated with the information posted on the Province’s website (here)

Your Business Representatives remain at work and are available to assist you with any job site or labour relations questions or concerns that you may have.

The full document:

COVID-19 Construction Business Guidelines

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What Are My Responsibilities?

In order to protect themselves and their co-workers, members are expected to follow the safety and hygiene protocols set at their job sites and by the provincial and federal health authorities.

Hygiene – Best Practices

As noted in previous emails, Health Canada recommends the following procedures to increase proper hygiene and reduce the risk of infection or spreading infection to others:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the washroom and when preparing food;

  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available;

  • When coughing or sneezing:

  • cough or sneeze into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand

  • dispose of any tissues you have used as soon as possible in a lined waste basket and wash your hands afterwards;

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.

In addition, keeping a safe distance from fellow workers will help contain the spread of this virus.

If you are not feeling well remain at home. Do not risk infecting others on the job site.

What Is WorkSafe BC Saying?

WorkSafe BC has released guidelines for contractors, sub-contractors, and employers. These guidelines provide additional clarity for our signatory employers and our members. We encourage you to review them, here.

You can also view their COVID-19 update page, here.

When Should I Stay Home From Work?

You should not go to work if
  • You’re sick or not feeling well, regardless of whether the symptoms match those of COVID-19
  • You’ve been in contact with someone who has, or suspects they have, COVID-19.
  • You have recently returned from outside of Canada and have not been in self-quarantine for a minimum of 14 days.

Hygiene – Best Practices

As noted above, Health Canada recommends the following procedures to increase proper hygiene and reduce the risk of infection or spreading infection to others:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the washroom and when preparing food;

  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available;

  • When coughing or sneezing:

  • cough or sneeze into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand

  • dispose of any tissues you have used as soon as possible in a lined waste basket and wash your hands afterwards;

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.

In addition, keeping a safe distance from fellow workers will help contain the spread of this virus.

When Should I Seek Medical Advice?

People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention immediately.

If you’re not feeling 100%, but you don’t know if your symptoms align with the expected symptoms, the BC Government has set up an online self-assessment tool; visit https://covid19.thrive.health/

You can also call 811 to speak with a registered nurse.

Will DC38 Remain Open?

To proactively safeguard members, employees, and the public at large through social distancing, and to stay in line with Provincial Health recommendations, we have decided to close our Burnaby and Victoria offices to visitors, effective immediately.

While the office staff will continue to be available during regular business hours, both from the office and from home, we ask for your patience as we expect there may be times when we will not be able to respond to you as quickly as we’d like.

We will continually monitor the situation and return to regular business services when it is safe to do so.

IUPAT International & Pension Office

The offices of the IUPAT headquarters and the Canadian Pension Plan in Hanover are closed until further notice. Please expect reduced service from these offices.

Dues & H&W Payments

If you are worried about getting your payments in on time, please give us a call to discuss alternate arrangements. Our contact information is listed below.

We will continue to accept payments by cheque, money order, and Interac e-transfer. For e-transfer instructions please call us at 604-524-8334. We are not accepting cash payments at this time.

If you would like to drop your cheque or money order off at our office, you can deposit it through the mail slot in our front door. Please be sure it is in a sealed envelope with your name on the front, and indicate on the envelope if you would like a receipt mailed to you.

DO NOT put cash payments through the mail slot as we will not be able to guarantee the value of these payments. Doing so will be at your own risk.

Financial Supports

Employment Insurance

Who qualifies for EI?

Whether you qualify for EI will still depend on your specific situation, such as regional rate of employment, and the number of hours worked in the last 52 weeks.

The government recommends people apply as soon as possible to find out if they qualify; waiting more than four weeks after your last day of work means you could lose access to those benefits. 

To receive regular EI, you must have lost your job through no fault of your own, including lay-offs. EI sickness benefits include being unable to work because of illness or quarantine.

Under Wednesday’s changes, the one-week waiting period for sickness benefits will be removed for those who have been told to self-isolate or quarantine, meaning applicants can be paid for the first week of their claim. 

If approved, the maximum amount paid out for EI is $573 a week.

How do I apply?

To apply for EI benefits, visit their website:

  • EI Sick (For those who are sick or quarantined)

  • EI Regular (For those who have been laid off)

For those who are sick or quarantined (EI Sick), you can apply to have the one-week waiting period waived by calling the government’s toll-free number at 1-833-381-2725, or teletypewriter at 1-800-529-3742.It is also possible to apply in person at a Service Canada office, though those who are experiencing symptoms, or are in self-isolation or quarantine are instructed not to visit. 

What if I don’t qualify for EI?

If you are not eligible for either regular EI or EI Sickness benefits, please see the next section, “Canada Emergency Response Benefit.”

Canada Emergency Response Benefit

For those who do not qualify for paid sick leave or EI benefits, a new Canada Emergency Response Benefit will provide a taxable benefit of $2,000 a month for up to four months to:
  • workers who must stop working due to COVID19 and do not have access to paid leave or other income support.
  • workers who are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19.
  • working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children that are sick or need additional care because of school and daycare closures.
  • workers who still have their employment but are not being paid because there is currently not sufficient work and their employer has asked them not to come to work.
  • wage earners and self-employed individuals, including contract workers, who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance.
  • Workers who are already receiving EI should not apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.
 
For information on this and additional federal supports, click here.

$1,000 Emergency Benefit

A new B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers will provide a tax-free $1,000 payment to British Columbians whose ability to work has been affected by the outbreak.

The benefit will be a one-time payment for British Columbians who receive federal Employment Insurance (EI), or the new federal Emergency Care Benefit or Emergency Support Benefit as a result of COVID-19 impacts.

This includes workers who have been laid-off, who are sick or quarantined, parents with sick children, parents who stay at home from work while child care centres and schools are closed, and those caring for sick family members, such as an elderly parent.

The workers can be EI-eligible and non-EI eligible, such as the self-employed. The benefit will be paid to B.C. residents, in addition to their federal income supports.

Source: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2020PREM0013-000545

$2,500 Special Line of Credit

The BC Building Trades are advocating with the federal and provincial governments to help provide financial relief for construction workers in these extraordinary times. We have also reached out and been working with our partners at Community Savings Credit Union.

Community Savings is offering a special line of credit for workers facing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This means that those facing job losses can have access to a $2,500 line of credit, interest free for six months.

Due to the current economic situation, the credit union is maintaining a degree of flexibility for applicants in terms of work history and current employment status; specifically, you can apply while on EI.

Importantly, these offerings are for current or new members of Community Savings only. Workers must join the credit union in order to leverage these options.

This is an easy process and although Community Savings has branches throughout B.C., workers do not need to live near a branch in order to sign up; they can apply on the website.

This help is not intended to replace assistance from the government, but we hope it will provide an extra level of support to those in need right now.

For more information please visit their website.

Mortgage Relief

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) is providing increased flexibility for homeowners facing financial difficulties to defer mortgage payments on homeowner CMHC-insured mortgage loans. CMHC will permit lenders to allow payment deferral beginning immediately.

More information on the federal government’s aid package can be found here.

$500 Rent Relief

In addition to imposing a moratorium on residential evictions, the province will also provide renters with up to $500 for the next four months to assist with rent payments.

View the full press release here.

Utility Relief

BC Hydro customers can defer payments or arrange for flexible payment plans without penalty. They can also access grants of up to $600 to pay their hydro bills using a Customer Crisis Fund.
Fortis BC has waived late payment fees and will ensure no customer is disconnected from the energy they need due to financial hardship at this time. More information is available here.

Car Insurance Relief

ICBC customers on monthly payment plans can defer payments for up to 90 days without penalty.

Tax Relief

Deadlines for various tax payments have been extended.
  • Personal income tax filing deadline changed to June 1
  • If you owe taxes, ability to defer tax payments until August 31
Business tax filing deadline changed to July 31

Student Loan Relief

Starting March 30, 2020, B.C. Student Loan payments are automatically frozen for six months. In addition, there is a moratorium on the repayment of Canada Student Loans.

More Information

We encourage our members to stay informed about the facts surrounding COVID-19 and recommend the following links to qualified authorities:


Contact Us

Contact Our Offices

We will continue to update this page, but if you need more information, please contact us:
 

Greater Vancouver

Northern BC

Vancouver Island

While the office staff will continue to be available from 8:30am to 4:30pm, both from the office and from home, we ask for your patience as we expect there may be times when we will not be able to respond to you as quickly as we’d like.

We will continually monitor the situation and return to regular business services when it is safe to do so.

Contact Your Business Representative