British Columbians are being reminded that Labour Day is more than just an extra day off work.
It is also a day to take the time to recognize the people who make this province a better place to live, work and play, said Labour, Citizens’ Services and Open Government Minister Stephanie Cadieux.
“The British Columbia that we know and love today did not appear out of thin air.”
In the 19th century, much of the province was covered by woods. Hard-working people of generations past felled trees, constructed bridges and erected buildings.
“This work was done in the name of progress, but it often came at a great cost as lives were lost and protections were few,” said Cadieux. “Only in recent generations have workers seen the benefit of workplace rights such as a minimum wage, paid holidays, parental leave and a 40-hour work week.”
Earlier this year, the government consulted with groups and organizations on modernizing employment standards to reflect the needs of the 21st century workplace.
The result was the decision to increase B.C.’s minimum wage to $10.25 an hour by May 1, 2012.
Over the last century, B.C. workers have also gained the right to safe working conditions.
“I am pleased to report that we have seen the lowest injury rates in our history over the past two years,” said Cadieux.
“While that is something we should take pride in, there is more work to be done. One life lost on the job is one too many. That is why we have more compliance and safety officers than at any time in WorkSafeBC’s history, and why we focus on high-risk industries.”
Unions have played a large role in developing citizens rights and protections. Approximately 30 per cent of the workforce is currently covered by a collective agreement.
“I am pleased to note that B.C. is currently experiencing one of the most stable labour climates in its history,” she adds. “This Labour Day, please take a moment to reflect on the accomplishments of British Columbian workers from yesterday and today. Their work has made our province what it is today.”