A Message From Canadian IVP Arnie Stadnick

Please click here to view message.

Notice of Lodge Office Re-opening

Our General Offices will re-open to the public and resume our regular office hours on Monday May 25, 2020. We have a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place when you enter the building, so please follow the signage and the direction of the office staff as you enter. We have posted the basic rules below for your information, and ask that all transactions are by electronic payment if possible.

If you are able to use MemberLink for payments, please do so in order to limit contact with our office staff.

If you wish to see a particular Business Rep, please call ahead and arrange a time with them directly before coming in.

The Training Center is not yet open but we are expecting it be open soon.

Please click here to view the temporary COVID-19 Boilermaker Lodge 359 office rules.

Thank you from all the Staff.

May 2020 Newsletter

Update: Regarding the dissolution of the BCA of BC

The Union is actively involved with the Unfair Labour Practice filed with the BC Labour Relations Board. We have been in mediation at the LRB and are in continuing discussions with all parties involved. We ask for your patience, as we are losing ours quickly, but understand that our goal is to get a resolution to this mess soon, either by mutual agreement or otherwise.

Monthly Union Meetings

The April and May meetings were cancelled with permission from International Headquarters. We will continue to assess our ability to hold a meeting in June as we approach that date. We may have to limit the number of members that can attend in order to enforce the social distance guidelines in place at that time, and will most likely ask that no guests or retires attend this meeting. This will be done to ensure active members have a chance to fill the seats until such time as we can make room for everyone again. We will keep you up to date on this through the nightly job line as we approach June’s meeting date.

COVID-19 and Office Staff

The office continues to rotate staff between working from home, working in the office, and taking vacation time.  We are pursuing the CERB program benefits announced by the Federal Government and are applying for all benefits where we meet the requirements. The Boilermaker Reps/Dispatcher have been on a 20% wage reduction and a 50% reduction in vehicle allowances since April 6th, and will continue that reduction until such time as we get more members back to work. There are still no walk-ins permitted in the office until the Provincial Health Authorities give more direction on opening up to the public, but we are aiming for a reopening of the general office on Monday May 25th. Once we re-open the General Office to the public we will still maintain a social distancing environment inside the offices for the foreseeable future, so please follow the instructions when entering. The Training Center will also be assessed for use at that time.

2020 Golf Tournament and BBQ

It is unfortunate that we had to make the decision to cancel both the 2020 Golf Tournament and the summer BBQ. It remains unclear what type of events will be allowed by the health authorities as we get closer to the summer and we could not commit to all the venues, catering, etc., without a clear path forward.

We look forward to next year’s events, which will be taking place during Lodge 359’s 75th anniversary year, and we will make the 2021 events a time to remember.

Dispatcher’s Report

It has been a rough start to 2020 and I hope all 359 members and their families are safe and healthy.  I would like to give a big thanks to all the members that worked on the Parkland Job for CIMS and Melloy.  That shutdown came with many challenges and our membership rose to the occasion and did a bang up job, hats off to you Brothers and Sisters.

With the COVID-19 Pandemic most work came to an immediate halt.  Site C and Prince Rupert have both been put on hold and all the scheduled spring shutdowns were postponed.  We are hopeful that very soon we can get crews back in Prince Rupert and Site C.  We have been working very hard with our Contractors and Clients to find a way forward to perform the annual shutdowns, and re- start the long term jobs while ensuring member safety as the highest priority.

During the past 6 weeks we have been dispatching emergencies and some small scale jobs. As we move forward on these jobs there will be many new challenges that we will encounter in regards to new WorkSafe BC regulations and COVID-19. The Government regulations that have been put in place are to protect all workers.  At the point of dispatch members will be asked a series of questions relating to COVID-19.  These same questions will also be asked at every toolbox meeting.  We do ask when members accept a job that any concerns they may have be brought forward through the proper chain of command and be patient and understand that this COVID-19 is unchartered territory.

JRD Program

On Monday, March 23rd 2020 Energy Safety Canada temporarily closed to the public as a precautionary measure to protect the students and staff. For Confined Space and Fall arrest courses, any Certificate of Completion previously issued by Energy Safety Canada or the Oil Sands Safety Association (OSSA), that has an expiry date between January 1, 2020 and September 1, 2020 will be deemed by Energy Safety Canada to have not expired and will remain valid up to and including September 1, 2020.

Here are a few housekeeping items I would like to remind the members of:

  1. Update your Beneficiary card with both the Union, and the Pension and H&W Plan at BG Benefits.
  2. Make sure we have your correct phone number, email and mailing address on file.
  3. Transfer your pressure welding tickets to a Class A License with Technical Safety, and you can find more info on this in the article below.
  4. Send in any welding or safety tickets / certifications that you have so we can update your file and keep a copy on record in case you lose your ticket.

Lower Mainland Tank Work

Horton continues to work on the 6 RAM project tanks in Richmond to supply jet fuel to the airport, and has now started work on two other tanks in the Lower Mainland at North Vancouver, and these are expected to last until the fall. There are 2 more tanks at YVR that are anticipated to start in the fall. We are awaiting more announcements on the TMX tank project on Burnaby Mountain which involves the construction of up to 14 large diameter tanks.

Site C Dam- There has been no recall to the Site C dam project as of yet. Keep in touch with Dave French and the Dispatcher at the office on when this may happen.

Pembina Spheres- We are working with Horton on a plan to go back to work at the Pembina Propane Storage spheres in Prince Rupert. There have been some recalls back to Prince Rupert and we hope all can return to this project in the next few weeks.

Working During COVID-19

We are beginning to receive recall orders, and some new orders for other work. Due to COVID-19 there may be some challenges regarding indocs, transportation, etc. The Union is working with the contractors on some of these things and there may be some changes to the collective agreements that must be made to ensure we can get people back to work and maintain the requirements of the Provincial Health Authorities. If this is the case the dispatcher will be informing you of any changes before you accept the job.

It is the Employers responsibility to have a plan in place to work under the health authority guidelines, and we will continue posting more information on this and the WorkSafe guidelines in our news section of the website here:  https://www.boilermakers359.org/archives/

WCB Guideline for COVID-19

Please click here to view the guide.

Apprenticeship and Trade Advancement/New Welding Certificate Designations

  • A level 02 class was held at BCIT January 2nd through February 14th of 2020.
  • A Level 03 class that was held at BCIT February 17th through March 16th BCIT was shut down March 16th due to COVID-19 but the apprentices were able to complete the training.

BCIT will not be starting any new face to face training until they are able to ensure the health and safety of all participants in the Boilermaker program. That means that the Boilermaker Foundation Program which was scheduled to begin on Monday March 23rd was postponed and will be rescheduled for a later date. An announcement with respect to the fall semester beginning September 2020 will be shared shortly.

The Union has received confirmation from Energy Safety Canada that the H2S Alive, Confined Space and Fall Arrest tickets that are to expire between January 1st, 2020 and September 1st, 2020 will now remain effective until September 1st, 2020.

The New Pressure Welder Program Is Here

If you are currently working as a pressure welder in BC or you hold a current BCP-100 certificate, and you meet the certification requirements, you can transition to a Class A certificate without fees before December 3, 2020. The Class A Certificate of Qualification allows you to perform pressure welding while employed by a licensed contractor in the Province of BC. This certificate must be renewed every three years before your birth month.

If you do not apply before December 3, 2020, you will need to apply for a Class A certificate as a new pressure welder in BC, which costs $389. This fee does not include the recognized test administrator practical exam fee.

For more information on the new pressure welder program you can visit https://www.technicalsafetybc.ca/blog/new-pressure-welder-program-here or contact Gord or Jamie at the Boilermaker Apprenticeship and Trade Advancement office @ 778-369-3590 and we will assist you in the application process.

Boilermakers Lodge 359 Shop Update

Bargaining for Farr Fab and IST Boiler:

Due to the COVID-19 crisis and the economic uncertainty that has developed as a result of the pandemic, bargaining of a new collective agreement for both Farr Fabricating and IST Boiler have been postponed until further notice.  Both parties will remain in regular communication while monitoring the situation on a month to month basis and will commence bargaining when both parties feel it is safe to do so. When bargaining resumes and a new collective agreement is reached, all changes to the ratified agreement will be made retroactive to the expiry of the current agreements.

Peerless Ltd has also felt the impact of this pandemic which has led to major layoffs in the last few weeks. Starting May 1st the shop is shut down for 9 weeks. There will be a skeleton crew of members working limited hours for the next few weeks but there are no plans to re-open the shop prior to the 9 weeks expiring. Bargaining between Lodge 359 and Peerless has also been postponed until further notice.

On a positive note, BM&M, Valmont WCE, Inter-Kraft, Metal Distributors have not been overly affected by COVID-19 and have maintained standard operation during the current crisis. All employers are doing their part to minimize the risk for all employees and are strictly following all government health and safety protocols. It is equally important that all members working during this period protect themselves and others, especially those with pre-existing medical conditions and older people, by practicing good hygiene: frequent hand washing, not touching your face, coughing or sneezing into your arm and staying home as much as possible when not at work.

 2020 Scholarship Awards

Congratulations to the following 2020 International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Scholarship Winners in Canada:

The IEC Scholarship Committee has awarded scholarships to the following Canadian applicants:

$1,000 – Mishka Brideau, daughter of Renaud Brideau, Local Lodge 73. $1,000 – Samuel Marc Chiasson, son of Aldeo Chiasson, Local Lodge 146. $1,000 – Uto Hong, daughter of Changwoo Hong, Local Lodge 146. $1,000 – Savannah Maria Koorbatoff, daughter of Kevin Koorbatoff, Local Lodge 359. $1,000 – Amelie Edith Larade, daughter of Mark Larade, Local Lodge 73. $1,000 – Jada Skylar Leblanc, daughter of David Leblanc, Local Lodge 128. $1,000 – Aurora M. MacInnis, daughter of Cameron MacInnis, Local Lodge 73. $1,000 – Anja Marx, daughter of Hagen Marx, Local Lodge 359. $1,000 – Katelyn Elizabeth Spurr, daughter of Adam Spurr, Local Lodge D579. $1,000 – Tansy Anna-Jean Tober, daughter of Larry Tober, Local Lodge D575. $1,000 – Tatiana Catherine Vilchez, daughter of Jose Vilchez, Local Lodge 146. $1,000 – Virginia Paige Wilson, daughter of Robb Wilson, Local Lodge 73.

In addition, the Canadian Federation of Labour (CFL) is sponsoring three (3) $1,000 scholarship awards. The IEC Scholarship Committee has awarded the CFL scholarships to the following Canadian candidates.

$1,000 – Mishka Brideau – daughter of Renaud Brideau, Local Lodge 73.  $1,000 – Tatiana Catherine Vilchez – daughter of Jose Vilchez, Local Lodge 146. $1,000 – Virginia Paige Wilson, dauther of Robb Wilson, Local Lodge 73.

The scholarship award winners were selected from among 72 applicants. In selecting these winners, the members of the Scholarship Committee were highly impressed with their excellent grades throughout high school, their many achievement awards, their participation in many extracurricular activities and their well written essays. There are so many applicants who are deserving of commendation and I wish them all well. I am proud of each of them.

Sincerely and fraternally,   Newton B. Jones       International President

 BOILERMAKERS LODGE 359 STICKER DESIGN CONTEST

!!WE ARE IN NEED OF SOME NEW STICKERS!!

We have extended the due date to receive sticker ideas, so please send us your designs and we’ll pick a winner (or winners!) in June. You may also think about submitting a “Lodge 359 75th Anniversary” sticker design for next year’s 2021 anniversary.

STICKER CONTEST RULES AND REGULATIONS

  1. All artwork MUST be submitted to memberservices@boilermakers359.org by June 15th, 2020.
  2. Artwork should be kept to a standard sticker size, which is roughly 2.5”x2.5”, and does not have to be professionally finished. We can take your idea and make it happen!
  3. Once submitted, all copyrights are with Lodge 359 and may be produced by us as Lodge 359 promotional materials such as stickers, clothing, window decals, hats, etc. at our exclusive discretion.
  4. All artwork submitted MUST be an original of the contest participant and have no copyrights attached.
  5. This contest is open to all Lodge 359 members or their relatives, and to all ages.
  6. Lodge 359 has the right to modify any artwork that is submitted.
  7. The winner, or winners, will be contacted and asked to come to Lodge 359 to pick up their prize.  If the winner is unable to pick up their prize then Lodge 359 will mail the prize to the winner.

On behalf of all the staff we hope everyone is staying safe out there, and we anticipate lots of work once we get through these extraordinary times.

WCB and Disability Law Update (Covid-19) – Part Two

Transitioning from Phase 1 to Phase 2

With the emergence of Covid-19, the provincial government took immediate steps to close and reduce non-essential service providers in the province. Some essential services, such as health care, transportation, sanitation, and critical infrastructure remained open. However, those industries were required to develop safe operation plans that were in compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations.

The safe operation plans were meant to ensure a reduced risk of exposure to the virus and a reduction of workplaces becoming vectors of transmission.  With a reduction in cases, the Government is now prepared to move to Phase 2.

Phase 2 Mid-May and onward

Effective the middle of May, additional, non-essential services will be permitted to open and resume business. These services include:

–          elective surgery,

–          community paramedical providers,

–          retail sector,

–          salons,

–          restaurants,

–          office-based work,

–          community facilities, such as museums and libraries,

–          child care, and

–          outdoor facilities including parks and beaches.

However, in reopening, the provincial health officer has been clear that a further spike in Covid-19 may result in a reduction of services that are available.

Importantly when reopening, all businesses and operations will need to do so in accordance with enhanced protocols. The enhanced protocols need to be in alignment with Public Health and Safety Guidelines and WCB Guidelines. The Public Health and Safety Guidelines are located here.

Phase 2 Union Perspective

Unions have an important role to play specifically in the context of JOHS committees and being engaged in the development of enhanced protocols. The WCB has been clear, it will not be reviewing or approving the plans of individual employers. However, the expectation from WCB is that employers will take steps to minimize the risk of Covid-19 and these steps should include engaging with workers. Such plans must demonstrate how employers will reduce the risk of exposure of the virus through the following:

–          how the workplace is organized and arranged,

–          how specific activities are carried out,

–          cleaning and sanitizing, and

–          communication at the workplace.

If WCB conducts an inspection, it will ask employers how these steps have been taken to protect their workers. Employers must take these steps to ensure the safety of workers. If employers are not taking these steps, you may wish to consider filing a grievance on language around non-compliance with the WCA and related regulations or alternatively, by contacting the WCB Prevention Information Line. Contact information for the line can be found here. The Union has an important role to play in the safe return of workers. We will be doing out bit to ensure Covid-19 does not spike by pushing employers to return workers back safely into the workplace.

Day of Mourning

Courtesy of WCB Advocate Adam Picotte

I write this email on April 28, the day of mourning. A day when we remember the thousands of workers who have been killed, injured or suffered illness due to workplace related disease. There is an urgency to this observance this year when each of us is either working in or know people working in essential services and putting their lives at risk for the people of British Columbia. Because of the pandemic, the day or mourning is being broadcast online and can be viewed at 10:30am at https://www.dayofmourning.bc.ca/#.

I will provide a brief WCB update in this email and then focus on my top three themes for managing workplace returns during COVID-19.

WCB Update

The Board is introducing a welcome change to their operation over the next few weeks as it will begin communicating with workers and representatives over email. With written consent, case managers will start to use email during the claims process to share information such as completed forms and return to work plans. The goal is to have this available to all workers by early May. I will provide further information about this as it becomes available.

Themes for returning to work

My top three themes for managing workplace returns during COVID-19 are the following: income security, balancing safety with economic stability, and balancing privacy with economic stability. While some industries such as health care have predominantly remained active because of essential services, many industries have been closed or reduced. However, even those that have remained open will be looking to implement policies that ensure focus on productive employment. To this end, employers will be looking to put the weight of the burden on workers. I will discuss each of these in turn and give my quick take on things to consider from a unionized perspective.

Income Security

Employers will be looking to return workers as quickly as possible with the least associated costs. They will want to maintain production or economic activity and not risk disruption due to an outbreak. My sense is that this will result in employers being quick to send people home without a diagnosis of confirmation of illness. So what steps can you take? Consider the following:

  • Allow for periods of paid leave when there is a suspicion of COVID-19. This will ensure workers do not attend work sites when potentially exposed and encourage early testing for the disease.
  • Given that many workplaces will be looking to bring in selective people from the workforce or may want to return employees outside of seniority, rely upon seniority provisions in your collective agreement to obtain the best result for your members.

Balancing safety with economic stability

This is arguably where labour will have the strongest ability to assert control over processes. Employers are required to ensure a safe and secure workplace and unions have recourse through both the WCB, Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, and collective agreements to ensure this takes place. In order to ensure worker safety, consideration should be given to policies that address the following:

  • What provisions are in place for personal protective equipment.
  • To what extent is social distancing required to ensure safety.
  • Can work be done safely at home or in an alternate setting.
  • Can alternative schedules be created to ensure those taking transit are not placed at increased risk.

Balancing privacy with economic stability

Privacy is one of the union’s strongest tools when dealing with employer overreach. I have already heard from a number of you about employer testing for temperatures and requiring medical clearance forms. Ultimately, what an employer can require needs to be balanced against the individual privacy considerations of each employee. We are living in uncertain times and this creates a greater emphasis on testing and medical clearance. My quick takes on this are as follows:

  • Meet the employer on the front end to work on policies for testing.
  • Ensure any policy is initially temporary and include provisions for revisiting the policy after a few months.
  • Any requirement for medical information must be for a specific purpose and must be limited in scope for the purpose it is being obtained for.
  • When negotiating these terms with employers, remember to rely upon anti-discrimination terms in your collective agreements and the incorporation of provincial or federal human rights code as the case may be.

Business Manager’s Update

Business Manager Jordan Streng and the Union’s staff want to ensure that the members are being kept up to date on the effects that the COVID-19 pandemic are having on our membership and our work picture. We will be updating the membership through regular notices such as this and will be posting on our Website and Facebook page. Updates may also appear on the nightly job-line if they are directly related to the work picture and of an immediate nature.

We will attempt to keep you up to date on the work, dispatch, and H&W side, but please keep informed through your local and national news feeds for all general information.

We continue recommending that all members be prepared for a considerable delay to the start of the spring shutdown season, and the work and pay cheques that come along with it.

*Our website will be down for maintenance on Wednesday April 15th, 2020

 

  • Beginning April 5th we have reduced wages and allowances for Boilermaker Staff and the Dispatcher, and in combination with the recently announced Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), we will be seeking to reduce our overall office payroll cost by over 50%. This will be re-evaluated on an ongoing basis as further information about the CEWS is released, and further actions may be taken at the discretion of the BM/ST if deemed necessary.
  • The Health and Welfare Trustees have made changes to the H&W Plan to assist the membership during the COVID-19 pandemic and the work slowdown. These changes have been previously posted in our news section, please click here.
  • The Unfair Labour Practices that we filed with the BC Labour Relation Board against the BCA, CIMS, and all other contractors seeking to switch over to the CLRA agreement continues. The COVID-19 remediation practices have left the LRB in a difficult situation, as all in person hearings have now been postponed or cancelled. The Boilermakers, along with the BC Building Trades Council (BCBCBTU), are seeking to have the current BCA of BC agreement recognized as the enduring collective agreement for these contractors. We continue to work with our legal counsel, the BCBCBTU and their counsel, and the Labour Board to that end. The BCBCBTU has also rejected the application by the CLRA to use the CLRA-BM359 agreement on behalf of these employers, and BCBCBTU continues to support Lodge 359’s position. There have been many applications regarding standing in each case, and many submissions to date to put certain aspects of this complex case into abeyance until others are heard. We continue to emphasize to the Labour Board that our membership must have answers sooner than later, but we know our case is solid and that employers cannot just pick and choose whatever collective agreement suits them the best, without our express consent.
  • General Office Hours will remain reduced to Mon-Thurs 8am-3pm, Fri 8am-12pm. The office is closed for Good Friday and Easter Monday. The office remains closed for all walk-in traffic and staff is alternating between working remotely and in the office, to reduce personal contact. Staff emails can be found on our website.
  • Our shop members are now experiencing slowdowns and we expect this to continue. Peerless has recently announced a complete plant shutdown for 9 weeks beginning at the end of April. Shop members can email Jeremy directly if they have any questions or concerns.
  • We are continually speaking to contractors about ongoing and planned work, and we are encouraged that there may be some jobs available if they can meet the health guidelines of the Provincial and Federal Governments.
  • Emergency call-outs will continue to be dispatched as they occur. Some regular job orders may also be dispatched, since the trades are considered essential services for the ongoing maintenance and repair of industrial facilities. If you are called by dispatch you will be asked all the questions regarding your health, travel, and personal contact history and you must only accept the job if you are able. You may be asked to have your temperature taken at the gate and complete a COVID-19 health check form before being allowed onsite, and you must be both willing and able to accept the job.
  • The Union has received confirmation from Energy Safety Canada that the H2SAlive, Confined Space and Fall Arrest tickets that are to expire between January 1st, 2020 and September 1st, 2020 will now remain effective until September 1st, 2020.
  • Stay Safe out there.Fraternally, Jordan and Staff.

Helpful Links and announcements:

Call:  1-888-268-4319 (available 7:30 AM- 8 PM)
Text:  (604) 630-0300

PROTECTING YOUR MENTAL HEALTH

These are challenging times, and we urge you to be mindful of your mental health as well as your physical health. As a member of the BC Building Trades, you have access to the Construction Industry Rehabilitation Plan, which offers a number of options to keep your mental health in check. CIRP offers long-term counselling to assist members dealing with depression, anxiety, substance use, pain management and other mental health concerns. All services are free, and available via video conferencing during this new working-from-home “normal.” 

Visit the CIRP website, email info@constructionrehabplan.com or call 1-888-521-8611 for more information.

WCB and Disability Law Update (COVID-19)

Discipline or termination for raising an occupational health and safety issue.

Many workers are concerned that employers will bring reprisals for raising COVID-19 OHS issues. However, under the Workers Compensation Act this is illegal.

Under the Workers Compensation Act if an employer discriminates (suspends, demotes, terminates, etc.) a worker for raising a health and safety issue including those related to COVID-19, then the worker can seek recourse through the WCB. These provisions are called discriminatory action complaints.

These provisions are set out in the Occupational Health and Safety Part of the Workers Compensation Act. In brief, it sets out that if an employer’s disciplinary action is even tainted by a health and safety issue than a worker can bring a complaint to the Board. If proven the Board can order any of the following actions:

• Reinstatement;
• Payment of lost wages;
• Removal of reprimand from record;
• Out of pocket expenses;
• Anything else the WCB considers necessary to secure compliance.

This process can run parallel to a grievance process. However, resolution through one process typically means further recourse cannot be pursued through the other. What is helpful about the discriminatory action process is the following:

• Timeline for filing a claim is 1 year or 60 days for failure to pay wages;
• Focused expertise from adjudicators on OHS matters;
• Free mediation process paid by the WCB;
• Broad power to order remedy similar to the jurisdiction of arbitrators.

I’ve had a fair amount of success in both mediating and running discriminatory action hearings through the WCB and WCAT. If you have any specific questions please feel free to contact me to discuss.

WCB Prevention Department and COVID-19

The WCB is divided into two halves – Compensation and Prevention. Compensation is responsible for administering benefits for injured workers. Prevention is responsible for education and enforcement of worker safety in the province.

During Covid19, the WCB has focused on educating employers to ensure compliance with occupational health and safety regulations. The specific areas being focused on are the following:

• Identifying exposure hazards and developing measures of control;
• Controlling the number of people on site;
• Prohibiting workers who are sick and those returning from outside Canada from immediate return to employment.

Generally, the WCB is looking to ensure employers are minimizing risk of the spread of COVID-19 during the pandemic. If an employer is not taking reasonable steps to instigate risk management, the WCB will take action to either education or write orders up to and including fines and shut downs.

Should an employer continue to violate safe protocols or fail to conduct reasonable assessments including JOHS committee members, consider contacting the WCB Prevention Line at 1.888.621.7233

Information for Specific Industries

The WCB has released industry specific information to assist worker safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The specific industries and the hyperlinks to the information are as follows:

Agriculture;
Construction;
Forestry;
Health Care;
Manufacturing;
Retail;
Transportation;

This information is helpful from both an educational perspective but also to ensure employers are maintaining their obligations during COVID-19.

COVID-19 In Construction

The following information has been provided by the BC Building Trades.

INTRODUCTION

The information on these pages is intended to assist you in providing relevant and reliable information to your members about COVID-19 and the services & supports that are available to them. It is not intended to replace the customized content you may already have, but rather to assist your efforts. Please feel free to use in whole or part where appropriate to inform website content, social media channels and member communication.

It has been provided as a Word document in order to facilitate “copying and pasting,” and hyperlinks are provided throughout directing members to more robust information.

It will be updated as our situation changes, with the date and version of each document listed clearly on the front cover.

For more information or to suggest edits, please contact:

Corry Anderson-Fennell

Director of Communications

COVID-19 GENERAL OVERVIEW

What the BC Building Trades and its affiliates are doing

We are working with provincial and federal governments to help the construction sector successfully navigate COVID-19. This includes:

  • Pushing WorkSafeBC to enforce occupational health and safety regulations to make construction sites safe. Our work has resulted in a special “inspectional initiative” to bring construction worksites into compliance with health and safety regulations.
  • Lobbying for financial supports for construction workers facing job loss due to COVID-19.
  • Co-ordinating the flow of accurate and relevant information throughout our networks so that our members can find it where and when they need it.
  • At the affiliate level, our local unions are variously helping their members access the many supports and services available to them, reaching out to retired and out-of-work members to offer help, assisting their communities manage the crisis by leveraging the unique skills of construction workers, and keeping their members informed about the near-hourly changes to the response to this current health crisis.

COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool

The BC Ministry of Health developed a self-assessment tool to help determine whether you may need further assessment or testing for COVID-19. You can complete this assessment for yourself, or on behalf of someone else, if they are unable. COVID-19 Self-assessment Tool

Self-monitoring & Self-isolation

The BC Centre for Disease Control offers information on self-monitoring and self-isolation on its website,

Self-monitoring means looking for new symptoms or signs of COVID-19 infection such as fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, etc.

Self-isolation means staying home and not going to work or school, and monitoring for symptoms for 14 days. Some essential service workers may be exempt from the 14-day self-isolation period.

Check the BCCDC website for full details.

Who to call

  • Non-medical hotline: 1-888-COVID19 or 1-888-268-4319. The line is staffed from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, and information is available in more than 110 languages.
  • If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have been in close contact with someone known to have COVID-19, call 811 to speak with a health care professional.

Stay up to date

The B.C. Government has developed a COVID-19 Support application, which lets you receive the latest updates and alerts, and resources from trusted sources. The self-assessment tool is also embedded in the application. Download it from the App Store or Google Play, or access the web version here.

WORKING SAFELY

Construction is an essential service

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.

Guidelines for construction

The BC Government has issued specific guidelines for construction sites operating during COVID-19. The guidelines include:

  • No more than 50 people in the same space in any circumstances.
  • Employees should maintain a distance of two metres apart.
  • 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.

Find the full list here.

Occupational health and safety – washroom facilities on construction sites

The condition and provision of washroom facilities on construction sites and any other workplace is covered by Section 4.85 of the B.C. Occupational Health and Safety Regulation. This regulation requires workplaces to have either fixed or portable washroom facilities that include provisions for hand-washing, and that they are kept in clean and sanitary condition with the proper supplies necessary to use them.

We know that many construction sites are not following these rules, and we are in the process of working with contractors and government to address this issue.

If your construction site is not maintaining proper washroom and hand-washing facilities to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, we ask that you:

  • Email us (regardless of whether you are a member of one of our unions) at info@bcbuildingtrades.org so that we can compile information to advocate on your behalf AND
  • Call WorkSafe BC at 604-276-3100 (Lower Mainland) or 1-888-621-7233 (toll free) to report your site.

Right to refuse unsafe work

You have the right in B.C. to refuse unsafe work. WorkSafeBC provides the steps to follow in order to achieve a remedy here.

We realize that conditions of “unsafe work” have taken on new meaning in the context of COVID-19. If you feel you are being asked to work unsafely (social distancing and sanitation requirements and recommendations are not being met, for example).

In this case, you should consult your union for advice and direction.

Importantly, workers who voluntarily quit instead of being laid off are normally not entitled to Employment Insurance. However, if you have “just cause” for quitting – you can show that quitting your job was the only reasonable alternative – you may be paid regular EI benefits. Just cause may include occupational health and safety regulations, human rights or labour rights not being followed. See full information on the steps to take here.

Job-protected leave

The B.C. Government has amended the Employment Standards Act to provide job protection to workers who are unable to work due to COVID-19. This allows workers affected by COVID-19 to stay home as needed for the following reasons:

  • they have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and are acting in accordance with instructions or an order of a medical health officer or the advice of a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner or registered nurse;
  • they are in quarantine or self-isolation in accordance with an order of the provincial health officer, an order made under the federal Quarantine Act, or guidelines of the BC Centre for Disease Control or the Public Health Agency of Canada;
  • they have been directed by their employer to stay home because of concerns about their exposure to others;
  • they are unable to return to B.C. because of a travel or border restriction; or
  • they are providing care to their minor child or a dependent adult who is their child or former foster child, including when a school, daycare or similar facility has closed.

There is no limit to how long people can take leave. More information here.

Extension of Occupational Safety Certificates

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, WorkSafeBC is granting extensions on any occupational first aid, or equivalent certificates, that are due to expire between March 1, 2020 and June 30, 2020. These certificates will now be acceptable in the workplace for 90 days beyond their original expiry date. More information here.

Working at home

Construction workers can’t work from home, however, some administrative staff are working remotely due to COVID-19. WorkSafeBC offers guidelines for basic health and safety when working from home.

The employer should ensure a basic health and safety policy is in place to work remotely and that each party understands their role, duties and responsibilities.

More information here.

WorkSafeBC claims

WorkSafeBC continues to provide services related to work-related injury or disease, including for new and outstanding claims. All call centres remain open.

Information on work-related injury claims for workers is available here.

PROTECTING YOUR MENTAL HEALTH

These are challenging times, and we urge you to be mindful of your mental health as well as your physical health.

As a member of the BC Building Trades, you have access to the Construction Industry Rehabilitation Plan, which offers a number of options to keep your mental health in check.

CIRP offers long-term counselling to assist members dealing with depression, anxiety, Substance use, pain management and other mental health concerns. All services are free, completely confidential, and available via video conferencing during this new working-from-home normal.

Visit the CIRP website, email info@constructionrehabplan.com or call 1-888-521-8611 for more information.

FINANCIAL RELIEF 

Employment Insurance

The Government of Canada has made changes to Employment Insurance in response to COVID-19, including waiving the waiting period for those who qualify for EI Sickness Benefits, as well as waiving the requirement to provide a medical certificate to access these benefits. Members should apply for Sickness Benefits if they are unable to work due to illness, injury or quarantine.

If a job is cancelled or suspended because of COVID-19, members out of work are on an economic lay-off and the current waiting period for EI still applies. We hope this will change, and we are currently lobbying government to eliminate the waiting period altogether. Members who have lost their job through no fault of their own and do not qualify for EI Sickness Benefits should apply for Regular Benefits.

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.

A provincial Emergency Benefit of $1,000 is available to workers, regardless of their eligibility for Employment Insurance and any other federal income top-up. Applications will be available in April, with a one-time payment in May.

Rental relief

A new temporary rental supplement of $500 a month for four months is available to help tenants. Evictions have also been halted and rents have been frozen. The benefit will be available to low- and middle-income tenants who do not qualify for other rental assistance. Funds will be paid directly to landlords on behalf of tenants in order to ensure landlords continue to receive rental income during the pandemic. More information is available here.

In addition, the government has placed a moratorium on all evictions for non-payment of rent.

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.

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.

Community Savings Credit Union line of credit

Community Savings Credit Union is offering a special line of credit for workers facing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Those facing job losses can have access to an interest free $2,500 line of credit.

Due to the current economic situation, the credit union is also maintaining a degree of flexibility for applicants in terms of work history and current employment status. You can still apply for it whether you are receiving EI or other income supports.

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.

For more information, visit the website or call:

  • Lower Mainland: 604-654-2000
  • Victoria: 250-385-8431
  • Toll Free:1-888-653-2000

Important Messages From The Health And Welfare Trustees

Due to the impact of COVID-19 and the financial burden that you may feel in the next few months, the Trustees have agreed to provide health and welfare coverage for May and June 2020 at no cost.  This means that you will not have any hours deducted from your hour bank nor will you have to self pay for those two months if your hour bank is low.  This free coverage will apply to you as long you had coverage for April, 2020.  It will also apply if you were about to become newly qualified for coverage for May, 2020.

This arrangement may be extended beyond June 30th, 2020.  The Trustees will review again in May and will decide at that time.

Finally, for retired members who are in receipt of a pension from Boilermakers Pension Plan and who have health and welfare coverage under the Retiree Plan, monthly deductions for coverage will reduce by 50% effective May 1/20 until the end of 2020.

Please contact the Plan administrator if you have any questions.  The best way to contact the administrator for the time being is via email – boilermakers359@bgbenefitsadmin.com

Homewood Health – COVID-19 – How To Speak To Children – click here to view

Homewood Health – COVID-19 – Facts and General Information – click here to view

Homewood Health – COVID-19 – Managing The Impact – click here to view

Business Manager’s Update Regarding COVID-19

  • General Office Hours will remain reduced for the week of March 30th – April 3rd, and remain closed for any walk-in traffic. See below for contact information.
  • Members continue to post back from postponed and/or completed jobs.
  • Emergency call-outs will continue to be dispatched as they occur. Some small job orders may also occur as the trades are considered essential services for the ongoing maintenance and repair of any facilities deemed essential. If you are called by dispatch you will be asked all the questions regarding your health, travel, and personal contact history and you must only accept the job if you are able. You may be asked to have your temperature taken at the gate and complete a COVID-19 health check form before being allowed onsite, and you must be both willing and able to accept the job.
  • The Health and Welfare Trustees will be scheduling an emergency conference call to discuss all aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and how it affects our plan and our membership. Any announcements will be made through the Board of Trustees and our administrator, Bilsland Griffith Benefit Administrators.
  • There is ongoing discussions between the Canadian Lodges, the Canadian National, and the International Representatives of the Boilermakers regarding many of our member’s questions about union dues, among other topics. We will post any new information here as it becomes available.
  • The Union has received confirmation from Energy Safety Canada that the H2S Alive, Confined Space and Fall Arrest tickets that are to expire between January 1st, 2020 and September 1st, 2020 will now remain effective until September 1st, 2020.
  • Although the effect on our shop members has been minimal up until recently, they are now being affected and we will provide further information on the shops next week.
  • Jordan is visiting the Parkland site today and will try for the Horton-YVR RAM tank site also.
  • We will continue to update the membership as needed, and please see the links below for further information, in particular the link on keeping up your mental health in these strange times …stay safe…

Fraternally,
Jordan Streng and Staff
Boilermakers Lodge 359

Helpful Links and announcements:

  • PROTECTING YOUR MENTAL HEALTH

These are challenging times, and we urge you to be mindful of your mental health as well as your physical health. As a member of the BC Building Trades, you have access to the Construction Industry Rehabilitation Plan, which offers a number of options to keep your mental health in check. CIRP offers long-term counselling to assist members dealing with depression, anxiety, substance use, pain management and other mental health concerns. All services are free, and available via video conferencing during this new working-from-home “normal.” 

Visit the CIRP website, email info@constructionrehabplan.com or call 1-888-521-8611 for more information.