Yesterday, September 17th, unions and employers in the casino sector met with Attorney General David Eby, who oversees gaming. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the state of casino operations in B.C.
What we were hoping to get out of the meeting was a date for reopening. Unfortunately, we didn't get that. The closest we got was a very broad timeline-that casinos could reopen as early as mid-October or as late as 2021. And we were informed that, while your employers have prepared plans for their individual facilities, public health officials don't believe our province is in a position where casinos can safely be reopened.
As you know, your health and safety are top priorities for your union. And, while we appreciate the cautious approach taken by the Provincial Health Officer (PHO), we also understand the frustration, stress and uncertainty the ongoing suspension of casino operations is causing for you and your families.
That's why we pushed the minister to seek clarification from the PHO as to why venues such as cinemas, restaurants and pubs have been allowed to reopen while casinos remain closed. We also asked the minister to consider evidence from jurisdictions where casinos have reopened for lessons that our province could use to reopen safely. And we emphasized the devastating impact the ongoing closure is having on you, your families and the communities you live in.
The minister acknowledged that our questions and concerns were valid and committed to raising them with the PHO. The minister also committed to continue meeting regularly with unions and employers to discuss and resolve outstanding issues over the coming weeks and months as we work towards our common goal of reviving the casino sector while protecting the safety of the people who rely on it for income and entertainment. As we learn more, we will keep you informed.
We will also continue working to request that your employers pay for your health and welfare benefits during this disruption. Without a date for reopening and with the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) ending soon, we will also be looking for other ways the federal and provincial governments can support you and your colleagues as you wait to go back to work.
Let's continue supporting each other as we work through this together.
Stephanie Smith, BCGEU president
Dave MacDonald, Component 17 VP
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