B.C.'s labour minister preaches patience as businesses reopen amid pandemic

“It is not flipping on a switch,” Harry Bains said. “It’s more like turning up a dial.”

B.C.’s labour minister said any business in the province could be targeted for random inspection to make sure proper steps are in place to limit the potential spread of COVID-19.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Harry Bains said B.C. had “fared well” so far through the pandemic and is in a good position to be an economic leader moving forward.

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But, he added, the reopening of the province’s economy will require patience.

“It is not flipping on a switch,” he said. “It’s more like turning up a dial.”

Since B.C. initiated its multi-phase reopening plan, businesses across the province have been working to welcome back clients and customers. WorkSafe BC released a handful of sector-specific guidelines on May 15.

Bains said WorkSafe BC has increased its rate of business inspection in recent months, having performed more than 8,700 since March 22. That’s compared to about 4,000 during the same period in 2019.

“The inspections are for all businesses that are reopening,” he said. “Every business that is reopening or is already open is subject to those inspections because we want to make sure there is no second wave.”

Bains said businesses could be fined for violations, but the preference will be to work with business owners to help them comply so workers can remain on the job.

“It could happen anywhere — restaurants, hair salons, manufacturers or service providers,” he said.

“I suspect most businesses will comply. And, if they need help, WorkSafe BC is there.”

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