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BC Liquor Distribution Branch provides each employee with 15 high-grade masks

Union representing LDB workers calls the move a huge win for health and safety
A man holds a 3M N95 respirator. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

The BC Liquor Distribution Branch (BCLDB) has provided each employee in retail stores and warehouses with 15 KN95 — or N95 — equivalent masks.

In a statement to Black Press, BCLDB said the one-time purchase was meant to augment the existing supply of surgical and cloth face masks that have been provided to employees throughout the pandemic. The purchase of the more protective KN95/N95s was an “additional measure” to protect employees.

READ MORE: Is your face mask protecting you from COVID variants? Here’s what to look for

“Since the start of the pandemic, the LDB has continued to take steps to prioritize the health and safety of its employees by providing protective equipment where possible, and adjusting safety protocols at worksites as needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19; these steps have allowed the LDB’s liquor and cannabis supply chains to remain operational during the pandemic,” BCLDB said.

Stephanie Smith is the president of the BC General Employees Union that represents approximately 4,600 workers employed across BC Liquor and Cannabis Stores as well as BCLDB warehouses. Smith said the move to equip workers with more protective face masks will make a huge difference in keeping staff safe from COVID-19.

READ MORE: B.C. alcohol consumption rates hit a 20-year peak in 2021

The union has long called for enhanced masking and COVID safety protocols for their members across B.C. Along with better masks, the union has called on employers to enact reduced capacity limits, upgrade ventilation systems and ensure workers can access COVID testing, vaccines and sick days.

“The LDB agreed with us… we’re really pleased with that employer for answering our call.”

The BC General Employees Union represents more than 80,000 workers in a variety of industries across the province. Smith said any of those workers who have been deemed essential need to have the same COVID safety measures offered to BCLDB workers.

“We need the PHO to order this as part of safety plans for work sites. Unfortunately, there’s been a real reluctance to do that. If every employer did what the LDB is doing we wouldn’t have an issue.”


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