A Letter to Fred Girling- President of SOAR Chapter 3-14


I thank you all for your service and union activism and hope that you are enjoying retirement. I was appointed as Minister of Labour, by Premier Horgan, in 2017 and for a second time in 2020.


As many of you may know, I have been a long-time labour activist and that my journey began as a member of the United Steelworkers at a local sawmill. Thus, being the Minister of Labour for B.C. has truly been an honour for me and I assure you that I wake-up every day committed

towards improving workers’ rights.


In my two terms as B.C.'s Minister of Labour, my ministry has made some major changes and we are looking forward to making more. We were successful in increasing the minimum wage to $15.65 an hour - making it the highest of all provinces. This latest increase is the first to be tied to inflation. We also brought an end to the lower discriminatory minimum wage for liquor servers in B.C., 80% of whom are women who were particularly impacted by the pandemic.


As the pandemic has taught us, workers need protections around taking sick leave. On January 1, 2022, B.C. became the first province in Canada to implement a minimum standard of five days of paid sick leave every year, to protect workers and businesses. Additionally, we improved the Workers Compensation Act to provide better support to injured workers and their families, and to enhance WorkSafeBC's investigations of workplace incidents. I am also very proud to say that B.C. will return to the single step union certification process -also known as the card check system. Workers in B.C. deserve to have a voice and a choice in how their workplace operates -without barriers. Single-step certification will allow workers

to join a union when a clear majority of all workers indicate they wish to do so through signing membership cards. This eliminates the second step of the two-step process and reduces the opportunities for employer interference or backlash.


Below I will be sharing some of the changes our government has made since forming government.


Seniors have supported our province for decades. Now that they are retiring, it is our job to support them. That is why we have made significant changes and investments to improve the lives of our seniors. One of them being that we increased the seniors supplement for low-income seniors, this was the first time the supplement was ever increased. We have doubled the maximum rate for a single person receiving the seniors supplement and are happy to report that the over-all rate increases will provide extra financial support to 80,000 seniors in B.C.


Additionally, we have brought the largest ever increase to income and disability assistance in our province's history. This has positively impacted more than 300,000 British Columbians, many of whom are seniors.


For people on income assistance living in special care facilities, the comforts allowance has increased by $20 to $115 per month. The comforts allowance lets people buy basic personal items. The increased amount reflects the rising costs of goods since the allowance for income assistance was last increased in 2005. We will continue to implement changes in accordance with our poverty-reduction strategy and remain steadfastly committed to continuing this important work.


The ICBC crisis was another challenge our government was committed to fixing. Many people will recall the ICBC crisis being referred to as a "dumpster fire", it was truly that when we first formed government in 2017. It was a tough task, but we were successful in putting in place a no-fault system which allows the party injured to get the treatment they need to fully recover. It was important for us to put in place enhanced care so that those injured in a crash would not have to pay out of pocket for any additional expenses. The new system includes improved income replacement benefits for those who are unable to work and additional benefits for those with a serious life-altering injury. The income replacement benefits are nearly double what they were under the old system. I am happy to report that the enhanced care system has brought insurance rates down significantly and increased the level of care people receive.


When we formed Government in 2017, it was one of our top priorities to get British Columbians the answers they deserve around money laundering, we stayed true to our commitment. Government is closing real estate loopholes, strengthening policies and procedures in gambling facilities and improving laws to deter money laundering. The public inquiry into money laundering was headed by Justice Austin Cullen of the BC Supreme Court and looked at the full scope of money laundering in British Columbia, including real estate, gambling, financial institutions, and the corporate and professional sectors. We wanted to know who knew what, when, and who profited from these illicit activities.


To address money laundering in real estate, the B.C. government has introduced measures, such as introducing legislation in March 2021 to establish BC Financial Services Authority as the single regulator for financial services, including real estate, to help streamline and unify regulation of the sector, and requiring businesses to keep transparency registers in their corporate records. Also, working to update and modernize the Mortgage Brokers Act and to increase beneficial ownership transparency for B.C. companies. Furthermore, reviewing the results of a consultation to potentially create a regulatory framework for money services businesses. Lastly, establishing the new Landowner Transparency Registry for real estate to help end hidden ownership of land in British Columbia. The Expert Panel on Money Laundering in Real Estate has called disclosure of beneficial ownership information the "single most important measure" to addressing money laundering. The investigation and in-depth review respectively resulted in significant and ongoing reforms that dramatically reduced money laundering activities in B.C. casinos. We have been clear since day one, dirty money has no

place in 8.C., and we will continue our work to protect our province from illicit activities.


Thank you, once again, for your years of union activism and for supporting our province. I'm grateful to have this opportunity to share some of our achievements with you and hope to have many more to share soon.


In solidarity,


Harry Bains, MLA



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