December 17, 2020

Dear ABLE BC Members and Industry Colleagues, 

Here’s what you’ll find inside today’s update:

  • Update to PHO public order on meetings
  • Province expands COVID-19 enforcement measures
  • New Temporary Foreign Worker Registry 
  • Reminder for Temporary Layoff Variance Holders: renewal before expiry
  • What to do if an employee tests positive for COVID: webinar recording and FAQ handbook
  • Vancouver postpones fee on single-use cups and ban on plastic bags to 2022
  • BC Tourism Task Force Final Report
  • Message from Rising Tide Consultants and member discount
  • Keep customers safe with Integral Surface Protection

Find all past updates from ABLE BC here.

As always, if you have any additional questions or need to reach us you can email: or

Update to PHO public order on meetings

In response to industry concerns, the Provincial Health Officer recently made changes to the public order for gatherings and events.

The following in-person meetings are now permitted in places, other than a private residence or vacation accommodation: critical service meetings, which cannot be held at the workplace or provided virtually; and occupational training, which cannot be provided virtually.

Critical service is defined as critical to preserving, life, health, public safety and basic societal functioning and includes health services, social services, police services, fire services, ambulance services, first responders, emergency responders and critical infrastructure service providers

Download the updated order for more information.

Province expands COVID-19 enforcement measures

The Province is expanding provincial COVID-19 ticket enforcement and workplace safety measures to keep British Columbians safe, as well as mitigate the effects on health-care systems, communities and the economy in the ongoing government response to COVID-19.

Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, has asked gaming investigators, conservation officers, community safety unit inspectors, and liquor and cannabis inspectors to actively support police and increase COVID-19 enforcement during their normal course of duties or when in public places.

To better hold offenders accountable for paying their provincial COVID-19 violation ticket fines, Farnworth is also directing ICBC, which collects ticket fines on behalf of government, to send deemed-guilty offenders immediately to collections. Currently, payment reminders may be sent to guilty offenders for up to a year before the overdue account is sent to collections. ICBC will now eliminate this reminder period and instead send unpaid files directly to collections as soon as the initial 30-day payment or dispute period ends, or an offender is found guilty in court.

Additionally, the Province has asked WorkSafeBC to enhance its inspection presence in workplaces by reducing reliance on virtual checks and move to more in-person inspections, particularly in sectors where COVID-19 transmission is occurring. Read more.

New Temporary Foreign Worker Registry 

Effective December 15, 2020, the BC Government has rolled out a new requirement for all British Columbian employers looking to hire temporary foreign workers.

The new requirement covers three federal programs:

  • The Temporary Foreign Worker Program
  • The Home Child Care Provider Pilot, and
  • The Home Support Worker Pilot

As you know, in BC, temporary foreign workers are protected by law from unfair employer practices and this registry ensures fair working conditions for all workers in the province.

By registering for a certificate, you will be able to continue to hire temporary foreign workers to round out your workforce, or to address seasonal requirements.

Online registration is now open and will only take approximately 20 minutes to register. There is no fee to obtain a registration certificate, which is valid for up to three years.

Reminder for Temporary Layoff Variance Holders: renewal before expiry

This summer, a ‘COVID-19 Emergency Layoff’ period was in place to extend the temporary layoff period under the Employment Standards Act to 24 weeks, expiring August 30, 2020.

Many employers requested four-month variances, which will expire near the end of December.

All variances have an expiry date. When you are within 30 days of that expiry, you will get an email from the Employment Standards Branch of BC notifying that you that, if you wish to seek a renewal to a later date, you must take action before your variance expires.

It is a simple, online process so employers and workers in non-unionized workplaces can jointly apply to the Employment Standards Branch to extend a temporary layoff period and renew a variance.

The online form, employee informed consent tool, and additional resources can be found here.

BC’s Ministry of Labour recommends that employers submit their variance applications early to avoid the potential of permanent staff layoffs and compensation for length of service to eligible workers upon the expiry of the employer’s Temporary Layoff Variance.

The Employment Standards Branch reviews the application. Employer will be notified once the variance is decided. Employers are encouraged to submit their variance application at least 5 days before expiry of their current variance and earlier if possible, for processing.

What to do if an employee tests positive for COVID: webinar recording and FAQ handbook

On December 10, 2020, ABLE BC hosted a webinar with go2HR on what to do if you have a COVID-19 outbreak.

Watch the recording and download the presentation slides. Download our COVID-19 Outbreak FAQ handbook here.

The webinar covers the following:

  • What to do if an employee tests positive for or comes into contact with someone who has COVID-19
  • What to do if a customer tests positive for COVID-19
  • Steps to follow in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak, including WorkSafeBC, public health guidelines, and general cleaning guidelines 
  • Employer responsibilities
  • Reviewing your COVID-19 safety plan 
  • Helping employees feel safe in the workplace post-outbreak
  • Sample communications and messaging to share with customers and staff

Resources referenced during the webinar:

If you have any other questions or concerns, please contact Danielle Leroux (Director of Membership and Communications):

Vancouver postpones fee on single-use cups and ban on plastic bags to 2022

The next measures that will further restrict single-use items within the City of Vancouver will go into effect on January 1, 2022.

Vancouver City Council approved on Wednesday a revised start date for the previously approved ban on plastic shopping bags and the new fees that will be in place for disposable beverage cups. 

These measures were originally scheduled to begin at the start of 2021, but they have been pushed back one year to provide struggling businesses with more time to prepare for the costly changes to their operations.

The ban on plastic shopping bangs is also compounded by a minimum fee of $0.15 for paper shopping bags, with the rate increasing to $0.25 in 2023. Paper shopping bags must be labelled “recyclable” and “made of 40% recycled content.”

There will also be a minimum fee of $1.00 for reusable shopping bags, with this fee growing to $2.00 in 2023.
For each single-use beverage cup distributed, a minimum fee of $0.25 must be charged.

As part of the city’s business license changes, businesses within Vancouver will be required to keep track of the number of paper shopping bags, reusable shopping bags, and single-use beverage cups distributed over every 12-month period.

This adds to the municipal government’s other already-enacted policies on single-use items, including the ban on foam cups and foam takeout containers that began on January 1, 2020, and the ban on plastic beverage straws that began on April 22, 2020

Read more.

BC Tourism Task Force Presents Final Report

Last week, BC’s Tourism Task Force presented its final report to the Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, and Sport, Hon. Melanie Mark, with a series of recommendations to support businesses and the workforce, and maintain confidence in travellers and communities.

Over a period of three months, members of the Tourism Task Force gathered information on best practices from other jurisdictions and analyzed the impact of existing provincial and federal relief programs.

The committee also held targeted consultations through a series of regional and topic-specific stakeholder roundtables and received presentations from 12 tourism experts.

In September, the Province appointed 11 business and industry leaders to a Tourism Task Force focused on identifying actions to help BC’s tourism industry recover from the impacts of the pandemic and put the industry on a path toward long-term growth.

Read the final report.

Message from Rising Tide Consultants and member discount

Rising Tide Consultants is here for you.

For over 30 years, Rising Tide Consultants has been committed to working hard for this industry. Over this past challenging year, we have been volunteering our services pro-bono for those in need, and we are dedicated to strengthening relationships with our clients and providing the licensing, compliance, regulations, and policy support and information that is so critical at this time.

Rising Tide Consultants is uniquely positioned to help you during times like these because we are your neighbours and friends, in the communities we share.

2021 is right around the corner, and with it, the promise of a return to normal and a brighter future. As a phoenix emerges from the ashes, we’ll all rise up stronger and more resilient than ever.

Wishing you warm holiday greetings – let’s make 2021 the best year ever.

ABLE BC Members receive 20% discount on all our services. Visit our website for more details.

Keep customers safe with Integral Surface Protection

ABLE BC Associate Member Integral Surfaces Group is helping keep your customers and guests safe during these challenging times.

Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces can remove and kill pathogens on surfaces, but studies have shown that more than half of the time surfaces are not adequately cleaned or are re-contaminated within minutes. 

A durable or persistent antimicrobial bonded to a facility’s surfaces – like the Integral Surface Protection Program – has the potential to reduce microbial load and facilitate better cleaning and sanitizing. A lower bacterial load can reduce staff and guest’s risk of cross-contamination and acquired infections. 

Watch this 2-minute video to learn more about the program and how you can achieve the best possible clean.

For more information please contact:
Darren Turik, BC Sales

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