Critical shortfall is hurting BC’s lowest-paid workers

February 17, 2023

Right now in BC, there are employers forcing workers to put in unpaid overtime. Cheating them of severance pay. Refusing to give them the vacation time and paid sick leave the law requires. And they’re getting away with it.

Because the Employment Standards Branch, the people who enforce the rules, can’t keep up with the number of complaints coming in. We need to change that immediately.

A worker who takes a complaint to them can expect it to take over a year to even hear from a case worker — and much longer to have their case resolved. Often the Branch pushes workers to accept a deal with their employer where they get much less than they’re owed. And the employer pockets the difference.

BC has some of the best worker protections in the country. But they don’t mean anything if we can’t enforce them.

The Employment Standards Branch just doesn’t have the funding they need to handle complaints. (They have a smaller budget today than they had 20 years ago — when there were over half a million fewer workers in BC!)

But we have a chance to change that if we act right now. Because the BC government will release the 2023 provincial budget on February 28. Let’s make sure that budget gives the Employment Standards Branch the increase it needs. With a major increase in funding, the Branch can start clearing the backlog and do a better job of preventing abuse from happening in the first place.

Please take a quick minute to add your voice and tell the BC government to fund employment standards enforcement.


Sussanne Skidmore 
President, BC Federation of Labour

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