On May 5, BCGEU President Stephanie Smith and Component 1 Vice President Dean Purdy met with Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth, senior ministry staff and senior leadership at BC Corrections to discuss the Ministry's plans to address the institutional and other factors identified by the BC Human Rights Tribunal (BCHRT) in the Levan Francis decision.
Members in corrections have raised concerns through their component that their employer was not taking action in response to the BCHRT decisions related to Levan Francis and that members were not confident that the same situation couldn't happen again.
The BCGEU's message was well received-the ministry understands and agrees with our union's position (which is backed by the BCHRT decision). Our union leadership clearly and forcefully communicated that what happened to Levan Francis-from the initial incident to the employer's handling of it-was unacceptable.
Our union proposed a joint strategy moving forward, with the expectation that the employer and the union work collaboratively to ensure not only that critical lessons from the Levan Francis case are learned, but that the right changes are made. In addition, it is crucial that the lessons learned -and related remedies-are effectively communicated to frontline members.
The ministry took accountability for next steps and advised that they will be planning an independent review of the BCHRT decision to ensure the division learns the right lessons and makes the right changes. The review is still in the planning stage, and the work has not yet started, but our union will be involved in that process. It is imperative that concrete actions are being taken to promote safe an inclusive workplaces, and ensure that what happened to Levan Francis does not happen again.
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