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B.C. premier tells app-based firms to 'suck it up' over new rules

Premier David Eby tells app-based companies to suck it up over new rules
Premier David Eby Thursday defended new measures to protect ride-hail and food-delivery workers employed by app-based companies like Uber. (Black Press Media file photo)

B.C. Premier David Eby says app-based companies employing ride-hail and food-delivery workers can "suck it up" as new, first-in-Canada rules come into effect this fall.

The provincial government Wednesday announced news regulations protecting gig workers. Starting Sept. 3 companies like Uber and DoorDash will have to pay 120 per cent of the provincial minimum wage to their employees while working — $20.88 per hour. Ride-hail and food-delivery workers will also see their tips protected and they will become eligible for workers compensation benefits as part of other measures designed to create safe working environments.

The broad coordinates of the legislation became public in the fall, but yesterday's announcement prompted another round of concerns from the companies themselves and business leaders at large. 

Bridgitte Anderson, president and CEO of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, said in a statement that B.C. companies already contend with some of the highest costs and strictest regulatory and tax environments in North America.

"We are concerned that the new regulations will impose additional burdens and reduce flexibility, inevitably leading to even higher costs for transportation and food delivery services," Anderson said. She also fears that companies will hand out fewer assignments to workers to cut their costs. 

But Eby does not buy it.

"These companies can suck it up. They will be alright, they will be fine," he said Thursday (June 13 during an unrelated event with Newfoundland Premier Andrew Furey. "The companies that employ these ride-hail and food-delivery workers make billions while the workers themselves often live right at the edge, (British Columbians) don't want a scenario where their food is delivered on the backs of someone, who is looking at homelessness and using a food bank to subsidize the delivery charge," he said.

Eby said he himself uses food-ordering services on occasions, especially when in Victoria.

"But there is no chance I want my food brought to me by someone who has to use the food bank or if they get attacked isn't covered by WorkSafe BC." 

If parts of the business community are critical of the measures, other voices say they do not go far enough. Véronique Sioufi, researcher for racial and socio-economic equity with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, BC Office, told Black Press Media last year that government that the measures represent a "step in the right direction" but noted that government should have gone further. 

For example, Sioufi pointed out that workers won't be paid while waiting to accept assignments. Gig workers themselves have also raised concerns about the effectiveness of the new legislation. 


Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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