British Columbia

B.C. could 'go it alone' on paid sick leave if feds won't take the lead, John Horgan says

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Horgan said he wants Ottawa to spearhead a national program for paid sick days, but could go ahead as a province. Such a program would allow people to stay home when they're sick without fear of losing pay.

Premier also said plans for $10-a-day child care in B.C. 'abruptly stopped' by pandemic

Premier John Horgan said he will continue to advocate for federal leadership on paid sick leave. (Michael McArthur/CBC)

Premier John Horgan said B.C. could develop its own paid sick leave program, but he insists the federal government should take the lead on such an effort.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Horgan said he wants Ottawa to spearhead a national sick pay program that would ensure people don't go to work when they're ill.

"But we're prepared to go it alone if need be," Horgan said. "I do have allies in the federal government who appreciate the initiative I've been promoting."

Horgan spoke about sick pay for workers so they wouldn't lose pay if they stayed home with flu-like symptoms, something that's particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic, and other issues during a phone-in news conference.

He said he has telephone meetings Thursday, first with other premiers and then with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland. 

He said he would stick to his position that the feds need to be involved when it comes to sick pay.

"We'll see what comes of tomorrow," he said. 

'Spit and polish'

Horgan appeared to have cooled on the idea of National Hockey League teams taking to the ice in B.C. cities outside of Vancouver if the league resumes its 2019-20 season.

Horgan suggested last week that arenas used by junior hockey teams in Victoria, Kamloops or Cranbrook might be suitable for the NHL.

Shuttered ticket windows are seen at Rogers Arena in March. (Anne-Marie Sorvin/USA TODAY Sports)

But on Wednesday he seemed to skate back the idea of playing games further afield and brought the focus back to the Lower Mainland as a venue.

Horgan highlighted the Canucks' current home ice at Rogers Arena as a site for games as well as the team's former home arena, Pacific Coliseum.

"Which, with a bit of spit and polish, could be brought back to an NHL standard, I believe," he said.

Horgan added there are arenas in Langley and Abbotsford that could make do as NHL rinks and highlighted an abundance of hotel capacity in the region to house teams.

Child care

On the subject of child care, Horgan said B.C. is still developing more spaces in the province, but a 10-year plan has been "abruptly stopped" by COVID-19.

Horgan was asked about fast-tracking $10-a-day daycare to help parents get back into the workforce, but said that was not likely.

"I'm not backing away from [creating child care spaces] for a minute, but I believe accelerating the plan we already had in place is not likely in the short term," Horgan said.

Horgan said one problem is there is still a need for more early childhood educators in the province.

"What I know and what I am excited about is that everyone in British Columbia understands the importance of child care now that might not have thought that even two years ago," he said.