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General COVID-19 News

Below you can find general articles or bulletins that we have published regarding COVID-19.

For job-specific news, please choose a work sector here.

COVID-19: BCGEU office closure details - BCGEU

Since the beginning of the Coronavirus outbreak in January, your union has been closely monitoring the situation and acting decisively based on the best available science and expert recommendations to keep members and staff healthy, safe, and informed while maintaining core services and supports for our 80,000+ members across the province during this critical time.

Yesterday, I convened the first meeting of the BCGEU COVID Response Team-which is made up of me, Treasurer Paul Finch, our four Executive Vice Presidents, the BCGEU's three directors and our press secretary. The team will be meeting daily (by phone) throughout the pandemic to identify urgent issues for members and staff and streamline the resolution of those issues.

The first issue we tackled was the decision to close BCGEU offices to the public and require all non-essential BCGEU staff to work from home effective as soon as it is operationally possible. We expect all offices to be closed by the end of this week-hopefully many will be closed by Wednesday.

We took this decision to ensure our members have access to core services and supports of their union during the pandemic while also supporting the ability of our staff to practice social distancing. Allowing non-essential staff to work from home and restricting public access to BCGEU buildings we are making sure staff whose work requires them to be in an office to practice social distancing in their workplace. 

I want to make two things clear:

  • BCGEU buildings are safe-we implemented deep cleaning protocols in every facility last week. This decision to have non-essential staff work remotely is simply our commitment to the recommended practice of social distancing.
  • The office closure will not impact members' ability to access the core services and supports of their union. During this period of remote work, local chairs will continue to have direct access to staff representatives and members with questions or issues related to COVID-19 or regular labour relations can contact their steward or local chair as they usually would. In addition, members with questions or concerns specific to COVID-19 in their workplace can email those questions to health@bcgeu.ca 

Going forward your union will continue to protect the health, safety, and rights of our members and staff as well as all working people based on the best available science and expert advice and to keep our members and staff informed of our decisions and actions. I encourage all of you to follow the science, listen to the experts and take care of yourselves and your loved ones. Thank you for all that you do.

In solidarity,
Stephanie Smith

 



UWU/MoveUP

July 02, 2020

COVID-19 stress - Care to Speak program - BCGEU

Since COVID-19 hit, healthcare workers like you have been under incredible pressure -- and you have likely been significantly impacted by feelings of stress and anxiety about the pandemic.
Sometimes it's hard to know where to turn, so we wanted to let you know about a new program called Care to Speak designed to support the mental well-being of healthcare workers
impacted by the personal and professional demands of working on the frontline during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Care to Speak offers free, confidential and non-judgemental support, through a telephone hotline or online chat.
You'll be connected with a trained peer supporter who has worked in front line healthcare – someone who understands your challenges and stresses.
You can access support between 5pm and 9pm, Monday through Friday:
- Telephone hotline: Call 1-866-802-7337 (PEER) - Online chat: Visit caretospeak.ca 

 


Your union has played a key role in developing the Care to Speak program,
and I sit on the advisory team to make sure the program provides the best possible support for BCGEU members. The program is a partnership between the Canadian Mental Health Association, SafeCare BC, with support from the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, and other unions and healthcare organizations.

For more information about the program, or to access support, please visit https://www.careforcaregivers.ca/caretospeak/

We're in this together,

Scott DeLong
BCGEU Vice President for Component 8 – Community Health Services

Mahen Ramdharry
BCGEU Vice President for Component 4 – Health Services

PS – If you're interested in serving as a peer coach to support other healthcare workers, the Care to Speak program is accepting volunteers. No experience is required -- you'll receive all the training and support you need to get started. You can learn more and sign up to volunteer at https://www.careforcaregivers.ca/peer-support-service/

If you let BCGEU know that you've signed up to volunteer, we may be able to provide you with additional support. Please email us at communications@bcgeu.ca if you're planning to volunteer.



UWU/MoveUP

June 29, 2020

Did you miss the town hall with Minister Dix? You can listen here - BCGEU

Did you miss the town hall with Minister Dix? You can listen here

On June 10, the BCGEU hosted a telephone town hall with Adrian Dix, B.C.'s Minister of Health. Throughout the town hall, Minister Dix fielded a variety of questions from Component 4 members as they spoke about their COVID-19-related experiences and voiced their concerns.

If you missed the event, you can listen to it here.

We would like to thank those of who attended and asked questions, as many key issues were covered. Both front line workers and those working behind the scenes in health care asked important questions about the effects that COVID-19 has had on our work and our employment. We were joined by BCGEU President Stephanie Smith and Executive Vice President Joanna Lord. 

Do you have a COVID-related question that was not addressed in the town hall?

Email health@bcgeu.ca – Responses are confidential. To help us answer your question quickly, please tell us your employer and city of work.

Thanks again to all health services members as you continue doing critical work to stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of British Columbians.

In solidarity,

Mahen Ramdharry, VP, BCGEU Health Services
Cina Opel, 1st Vice Chairperson, BCGEU Health Services



UWU/MoveUP

June 26, 2020

Heat Stress, Humidity, and COVID-19 - BCGEU

Working in an intensely hot and humid summer can pose a risk of heat stress to workers, affecting their health and safety. It is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of heat stress, the compounding effect of humidity in the current pandemic environment, and to implement preventative measures.

What are the signs and symptoms of heat stress?

Working in high temperatures can be hazardous to your health. It can cause your core body temperature to rise above safe levels, making you susceptible to heat stress. When high heat and humidity combine with other factors such as exertion, excess clothing, dehydration, fatigue, consumption of alcohol and drugs, or poor health (obesity, advanced age, pre-existing medical conditions), it may lead to heat-related illness, disability, and even death. Workers should be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of heat stress in themselves and fellow workers.

What role does humidity play in increasing the risk of heat stress?

The body attempts to maintain a constant core temperature of 37 degrees Celsius(1). As the ambient temperature increases excessively, your body is less effective at cooling itself. Excessive levels of humidity put the body at a risk of heat stress by impeding sweat evaporation from the skin. Sweat does not evaporate as readily due to the increase in moisture content in the air(2) . 

The Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers Inc. developed a Humidex-based heat stress response plan, where the humidex is calculated based on temperature and relative humidity. This plan is a simplified way of protecting workers from heat stress. Other factors could affect your susceptibility to heat stress and appropriate adjustments may be necessary. Ultimately, never ignore individual signs and symptoms of heat stress, regardless of the humidex.

The current COVID-19 pandemic could also increase the risk of heat stress. Ill-fitting personal protective equipment such as masks, vests, and clothing could create a microclimate around the skin by holding excess heat, moisture, and inhibiting sweat evaporation. This in turn can cause the core temperature to rise, subjecting you to a risk of heat stress. It is important to note that sweating does not reduce the body's core temperature, but that the evaporation of sweat is key.

Who is responsible for preventing heat stress?

The Workers Compensation Act (WCA) Part 2, Division 4, Section 21 mandates that employers ensure the health and safety of all their workers and remedy any workplace conditions that are hazardous to the health and safety of their workers. This includes remedying the risk factors associated with heat stress. Furthermore, The WCA Part 2, Division 4, Section 22 and 23, stipulate that workers and supervisors also play a role in ensuring their own health and safety and the health and safety of workers under their supervision, respectively. Preventing heat stress should be a collaborative effort. 

The Occupational Health and Safety Regulation (OHSR) Section 7.27 - 7.32 outlines Heat Exposure and the employer's requirements. The employer must have policies and written work procedures in place to address the risk of heat exposure. A heat stress assessment and exposure control plan can determine the potential for hazardous exposure of workers.

If hazardous exposure is identified, the employer must first look to eliminate the hazard. If the hazard cannot be eliminated, the employer must then mitigate the hazard using engineering, administrative, or personal protective equipment controls to reduce the exposure of workers.

Raise the issue of heat stress to your joint occupational health and safety committee (JOHSC). If you are a member of the JOHSC, add "heat exposure" to the agenda for your next committee meeting. In doing so, you and your employer have agreed upon steps the committee can take to conduct a heat stress assessment, an exposure control plan, and a plan to educate and train all workers about the hazards of excessive heat exposure. 

[1] & [2] Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety. (2019, July 2). OSH Answers Fact Sheets . Retrieved from Humidex Rating and Work: OSH Answers Fact Sheets: https://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/phys_agents/humidex.html

Download PDF of notice here



UWU/MoveUP

June 25, 2020

Your union’s position on changes at the Liquor Distribution Branch - BCGEU

Your union's position on changes at the Liquor Distribution Branch

I am writing today to clarify your union's position about recent announcements made by the B.C. government, and some potential changes, that affect the Liquor Distribution Branch.

On June 16, Attorney General David Eby announced a temporary wholesale pricing model that will allow liquor licensees to purchase beer, wine and spirits at reduced cost. The pricing change will be in effect from end of July 2020 to March 31, 2021.

Although this will result in a slight reduction in revenue for the LDB, your union supports this temporary measure because it puts that money into the hands of community businesses which supports the province's overall economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to changes to the temporary hospitality pricing model, the provincial government announced that work is underway on several other measures including the adoption of recommendations contained in the third-party assessment by Deloitte of the LDB's liquor distribution centre in Delta.

One change that the Deloitte report recommended, and which the LDB will begin work on after the temporary hospitality pricing model is operation, is the addition of an order management system that will provide wholesale customers with greater visibility into the status of orders and a transportation management system to optimize transportation efficiency. 

In general, your union is in favour of improving customer service, including processes and efficiency in the distribution system, so long as it is not at the expense of BCGEU members. Therefore, your union will be monitoring the implementation of the order management system and transportation management system to ensure it adheres to, and does not comprise, your rights or livelihoods.

The Deloitte report also identified options to replace the current system for delivery of non-stock wholesale products (NSWP). These options have not yet been evaluated or determined to be implemented by the LDB. However, it is your union's assessment that Deloitte has recommended changes that will reduce lead time for NSWP while avoiding major changes to the current system. Your union is fully against any measure of privatization and believes Deloitte's recommendation is in line with our position.

We will continue to keep you updated on these changes and any others.

In solidarity,
Kusam Doal, Component 5 Vice President



UWU/MoveUP

June 24, 2020

COVID-19 Safety Plans: What BCGEU members need to know - BCGEU

COVID-19 Safety Plans: What BCGEU members need to know

As you are aware, the B.C. government has announced timelines for services and businesses to re-open during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whether your workplace is re-opening now, or has been open throughout the pandemic, your employer – like all employers in B.C. – is required to develop a COVID-19 Safety Plan that meets government and WorkSafeBC requirements and to have the plan available upon inspection.

In addition to having a safety plan, your employer should:

  • Develop the safety plan in consultation with workers and your workplace's Joint Occupational Health and Safety (JOHS) committee or worker representatives;
  • Make the safety plan readily available to workers;
  • Ensure workers are trained and know how to keep themselves safe;
  • Ensure supervisors are trained;
  • Ensure supervisors are monitoring the workplace to confirm policies and procedures are being followed.

If these things are not being done in your workplace, or you have concerns about how they're being done, you should:

More about COVID-19 Safety Plans

By order of B.C.'s Provincial Health Officer, all employers must develop a COVID-19 Safety Plan. The purpose of the Safety Plan is to minimize the risk of transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

WorkSafeBC has developed detailed guidance and templates to help employers assess the risk of exposure to the virus, and put in place effective measures to protect workers. These materials are also a good resource to understand the best practices you should be seeing implemented in your workplace.

At a minimum, COVID-19 Safety Plans should include the following:

  • Measures to allow workers to maintain a physical distance of least two metres between one another and between clients/ customers
  • Policies to ensure that workers or clients (where possible) that are ill or required to self-isolate are not allowed in the workplace
  • Enhanced workplace cleaning, especially high-traffic areas and high-touch surfaces like light switches and door knobs
  • Easy access to facilities and adequate time for workers to wash their hands frequently
  • Consideration of allowing workers to work remotely where possible
  • "Engineering controls" – like plexi-glass barriers or other changes to the physical workspace to facilitate physical distancing, and to separate workers and/or clients where distancing is not possible
  • "Administrative controls" – like rotating or staggered schedules, restrictions on the number clients, or sharing documents electronically to facilitate physical distancing and reduce contact with potentially contaminated surfaces
  • Where physical distancing is not possible, provision for appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks, eye protection, gloves and/or gowns.
  • Updated protocols for Occupational First Aid Attendants (OFAAs)
  • A training plan for all staff on the Safety Plan and the measures identified in the Safety Plan
     

Download a copy of the COVID-19 Safety Plan poster here



UWU/MoveUP

June 24, 2020

Proudly wearing our union masks - BCGEU

Dear BCLDB members, 


Thank you for your advocacy and response in pushing back at our employer's short-sighted mask policy.

Your union is happy to announce that – thanks to our collective strength and the language we've bargained into our collective agreement – we've gotten the BCLDB to back down and issue a clarification that the BCGEU-branded masks that you have all been supplied are allowed to be worn on the job.

Our right to wear union insignia at work is thanks to collective agreement language that BCGEU members have bargained throughout the years, specifically Article 2.8 - Union Insignia, which can be found in your BCGEU collective agreement.

We have all worked so diligently to protect each other and our customers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. I'm proud that through our action as a union we're able to move our employer to clarify their policy on union face masks.

As a fellow BCLDB employee, I also want to note that I share your frustration at our exclusion from the province's COVID-19 Temporary Pandemic Pay, and I want to assure you that your elected union leadership continues to enquire with government as to why we were excluded and urge them to do the right thing and respect our work that was deemed essential.

To achieve our goal of inclusion in this deserved pay, it's important that government knows that we're united. If you (or your family and friends) haven't already, please take action to:

 

  • Sign our online petition – Give liquor distribution branch workers pandemic pay – http://action.bcgeu.ca

 


BCGEU face masks are being mailed out as they are received by the union from the manufacturer, with the order expected to be complete within the next couple of weeks. If you don't receive yours by early-July, please contact your local chair.
 
In solidarity,
 
Kusam Doal
BCGEU vice president for Component 5 – Retail Stores and Warehouse
 
 
Download PDF of notice here



UWU/MoveUP

June 19, 2020

Who is included in the pandemic pay program – COVID-19 update - BCGEU

On May 7, 2020 the federal government announced it was working with the provinces on a cost-shared, temporary "pandemic pay" program to top up the wages of select essential frontline workers. Through this program more than 250,000 frontline workers will receive a lump-sum payment of about $4 per hour for a 16-week period, starting on March 15, 2020 and ending July 5, 2020. To be eligible, employees must have worked straight-time hours anytime during the 16-week period starting March 15, 2020.

Eligible health care workplaces include:

  • Hospitals
  • Long-term care and assisted-living facilities
  • Provincial mental health facilities
  • Provincially funded home and community care services
  • Public health units
  • Primary care clinics
  • Diagnostic facilities
  • Community clinics
  • Diagnostic and treatment centres

Eligible workers will receive the payment directly through their employer and do not need to apply. For more information on temporary pandemic pay program, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/pandemicpay 

Component 8 administrative staff are eligible to receive pandemic pay however others in the union doing frontline work are not, so our work is not done. While our union continues to push for broader inclusion in the pandemic pay program, members can sign our petition calling on MPs and MLAs to acknowledge that all frontline workers deserve pandemic pay: https://bcgeu.good.do/premium-pay/stand-up-for-workers/

Thank you for all you do and let's continue to support each other as we move through this together. 

In solidarity,

Scott DeLong
Vice President, Component 8

Download PDF of notice here.



UWU/MoveUP

June 18, 2020

Who is included in the pandemic pay program – COVID-19 update - BCGEU

On May 7, 2020 the federal government announced it was working with the provinces on a cost-shared, temporary "pandemic pay" program to top up the wages of select essential frontline workers. Through this program more than 250,000 frontline workers will receive a lump-sum payment of about $4 per hour for a 16-week period, starting on March 15, 2020 and ending July 5, 2020. To be eligible, employees must have worked straight-time hours anytime during the 16-week period starting March 15, 2020.

Eligible health care workplaces include:

  • Hospitals
  • Long-term care and assisted-living facilities
  • Provincial mental health facilities
  • Provincially funded home and community care services
  • Public health units
  • Primary care clinics
  • Diagnostic facilities
  • Community clinics
  • Diagnostic and treatment centres

Eligible workers will receive the payment directly through their employer and do not need to apply. For more information on temporary pandemic pay program, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/pandemicpay 

Component 8 administrative staff are eligible to receive pandemic pay however other in the union doing frontline work are not, so our work is not done. While our union continues to push for broader inclusion in the pandemic pay program, members can sign our petition calling on MPs and MLAs to acknowledge that all frontline workers deserve pandemic pay: https://bcgeu.good.do/premium-pay/stand-up-for-workers/

Thank you for all you do and let's continue to support each other as we move through this together. 

In solidarity,

Scott DeLong
Vice President, Component 8

Download PDF of notice here.



UWU/MoveUP