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.
May 25, 2020
Scheduling per single site order – COVID-19 update, May 22
We are writing with important information about scheduling for employees affected by the Provincial Health Officer's Single Site Order.
If you are receiving this email, our records show you work at a worksite subject to the Single Site Order. The Single Site Order restricts workers like you to working at only one Assisted Living, Long Term Care or Provincial Mental Health Facility. If this is incorrect, please disregard this email.
Employers subject to the Single Site Order are required to follow certain steps when creating a schedule, as set out below. If your Employer is not following these steps, please email email@example.com and let us know.
Employees with regular status who worked at multiple sites before being limited to a single site under the Single Site Order, must be scheduled to work their total combined regular hours at the single site, up to a maximum of 1.3 FTE.
Once the Single Site Order is in place, the Employer at your single site is required to create an initial, emergency schedule, using your combined seniority from all of your previous unionized sites, and using the following steps:
a. In order to determine an initial, emergency schedule, the employer will:
i. Maintain the current schedule for all employees who remain at
the worksite and have scheduled hours;
ii. Identify all shift gaps in the current schedule by job classification;
iii. Offer identified shift gaps to employees as follows:
Round 1: by seniority, regular employees who previously worked at multiple
worksites and who are limited to working at a single worksite can select
from shift gaps up to their combined FTE at straight time;
Round 2: by seniority, other regular and casual employees can select any
remaining regular shifts at straight time.
b. Following completion of the emergency scheduling process, the Employer
will offer any unfilled shifts to employees in accordance with the collective
c. During the first 90 days, the employer will work with the union to develop
a more robust process to determine a new schedule for all regular employees for
the duration of the Single Site Order.
May 22, 2020
Your union and WorkSafeBC guidance for re-opening
Over the past 10 days, your union's executive, component vice presidents and Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) team provided input to the Workers' Compensation Board (WorkSafeBC) as they developed guidance for sectors that are re-opening, as per the B.C. government's Restart Plan.
We provided feedback on protocols and best practices to help each industry resume operations (or continue operations) in a safe way during the COVID-19 pandemic. We raised key issues and concerns and made practical suggestions for measures moving forward.
WorkSafeBC has now posted its guidance for some sectors on its website here. We encourage you to review the guidance for your sector.
We know that the process of reopening will be challenging. As workplaces adapt to a new reality, it is critical that employers take all reasonable steps to protect workers, and that workers are included in the planning and implementation of new procedures, to address the risks associated with COVID-19.
If you have any concerns or challenges as re-opening plans unfold, please notify your OHS rep, shop steward or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We will take action to help address your issues, and alert WorkSafeBC.
May 21, 2020
To All Child Care Professionals
In our last bulletin to you we remarked on the recent acknowledgement from Premier John Horgan and Minister of State for Child Care, Katrina Chen, about the critically important work you do.
Unfortunately, it appears that the competing financial obligations of the provincial government meant that child care professionals were not included as recipients of the recently announced "pandemic pay". For information on this new program see https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2020FIN0031-000907
Yesterday, we lobbied the Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, Shane Simpson, to ask the government to reconsider its position on providing pandemic pay to child care professionals. Today, your President, Stephanie Smith, who is also an early childhood educator, wrote to the Minister of Finance on your behalf to, again, implore government to reconsider including you as recipients of pandemic pay. You can see that letter here.
We know how important the role of child care professionals is to the social and economic recovery of this province in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. We know that you are truly on the front lines providing critical support to parents and dedicated care to their children. And we will continue to lobby to ensure that you receive pandemic pay and the respect that you so deserve.
Vice-President, Component 3
P.S.: Looking for additional resources on workplace health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic? Visit the OH&S section of the BCGEU COVID-19 Information Hub or information specific to the child care environment at: https://www.bcgeu.ca/covid_19_information_for_community_social_services_members.
May 21, 2020
Earlier this week, the B.C. government released details of a federal-provincial cost-shared pandemic pay program to top up wages of some essential workers temporarily. Although many essential workers will be supported through the pandemic pay program, many will not.
Negotiation with the B.C. government was not on the table, but the BCGEU pushed hard to ensure that the broadest range of essential workers were covered, including LDB workers.
Frontline essential workers like you, who have faced increased risk, cost and inconvenience to serve your community throughout the pandemic-deserve to be recognized.
To be clear, while the government announcement has been made, our position has not changed and the fight is not over.
In the next coming days president Stephanie Smith will be reaching out to the government with two objectives: get some clarity about the criteria that were used to include some workers and exclude others from this important recognition program; and continue the BCGEU's push to have the program expanded to include more essential workers, like you. Stephanie will be keeping me up-to-date on these efforts so the information can be passed on to you.
If you have further questions regarding the pandemic pay program, I encourage you to reach out directly to your local MLA: https://www.leg.bc.ca/learn-about-us/members
We are working on ways that you and your co-workers can make sure the government hears your voice on the pandemic pay program. Stay tuned for more information on this.
Vice President, Retail Stores and Warehouse Component (Component 5)
President Stephanie Smith's response to the announcement specifically mentioning LDB workers:
President Stephanie Smith's response to the announcement on Radio NL Local First News specifically mentioning LDB workers:
May 21, 2020
For some workers in the community social services (CSS) sector, your programs have maintained staffing levels throughout the COVID-19 pandemic; for others, your programs may have closed or changed service delivery methods or you may have been deployed to other programs. In any of these cases, entering this next phase under the BC government's Restart Plan will involve further adaptations and adjustments at your workplaces, in programs, and in the delivery of services to your clients. As we navigate this gradual transition in the CSS sector, your union will continue to stay in communication with your employer to ensure that the directives from the Provincial Health Officer (PHO), the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), and WorkSafeBC are being followed.
The most recent guidance from the BCCDC on the safe delivery of services in CSS can be accessed here: http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19/community-settings/social-services-providers. This document contains information on both the risks and the appropriate preventative measures in the CSS environment.
The most recent guidance from WorkSafe BC on returning to safe operation during the pandemic can be accessed here: https://www.worksafebc.com/en/about-us/covid-19-updates/covid-19-returning-safe-operation. There is also a link to specific information in the drop down menu on the left of the above page that provides guidance to those providing in-person counselling that may apply to some CSS workers. It is unclear whether WorkSafeBC will be providing further guidance to specific work groups within the CSS sector.
The information from the PHO, the BCCDC, and WorkSafeBC provides direction to employers in the development of occupational health and safety (OH&S) measures for workplaces (called either an Exposure Control Plan or a COVID-19 Safety Plan). These measures need to be put in place to eliminate or reduce the risk of exposure to and transmission of COVID-19 in the CSS setting. Many employers are working cooperatively with OH&S representatives and stewards in the development and finalization of these important measures and procedures.
Please review your workplace's plan so that you are familiar with the protocols that your employer has put in place to ensure compliance with health and safety directives from the PHO, the BCCDC and WorkSafeBC. In the event that you or a colleague feel that the proper processes are not being followed, you should first bring the matter to the attention of your supervisor or manager to try to come to a resolution.
If the situation is not resolved or if you feel unsafe, B.C. Occupational Health and Safety Regulation 3.12 gives you the responsibility and requirement to refuse unsafe work. The process of exercising this right is outlined here: Refusing unsafe work
If you are unsure if you should be refusing unsafe work, or if you have any other questions, contact your shop steward or OHS representative so that they can advise you on your next steps.
Looking for additional resources on workplace health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic? Visit the OH&S section of the BCGEU COVID-19 Information Hub or information specific to the childcare environment at: https://www.bcgeu.ca/covid_19_information_for_community_social_services_members.
Andrea Duncan, BCGEU Component 3 Vice-President
May 20, 2020
First, I would like to acknowledge the frontline workers that are finally receiving pandemic pay, many of these people were directly caring for people that are at risk, elderly and some of the most vulnerable people. Congratulations, you deserve to be recognized for your dedication and service during a pandemic and through this difficult time, we all thank you for your work and dedication.
Next I would like to comment on the workers that were not recognized with pandemic pay. Your component, your union and your president do acknowledge your work during this pandemic and requested that all BCGEU members working during the pandemic receive the pay for recognizing your work and efforts. This decision rests solely with the provincial government and they had the ability and authority to make the decision on this pay.
"We are happy that some of the lowest-wage members doing some of the highest-risk frontline jobs will be eligible. But the bottom line for us is that all frontline workers are shouldering an incredible burden in terms of increased cost, stress and inconvenience as well as increased risks to their emotional and physical health. All workers deserve recognition – not just some of them," said BCGEU president Stephanie Smith.
This conversation will continue, requesting recognition of workers that provided essential services during the pandemic so that others could stay home, keeping us safe and flattening the curve. This includes following up with the Ministry of Finance and the Public Sector Employers' Council (PSEC) to get clarity on how government made their decisions, and to push for broader eligibility for the program.
Your component and your union have not stopped trying and working on your behalf when seemingly unsurmountable obstacles have been in front of us before, have faith that we are here and constantly working on your behalf.
Component 10 Vice-President
May 19, 2020
Component 1 Update: Pandemic Pay for Corrections & Sheriffs
The B.C. Government today announced a lump-sum pandemic payment for essential frontline workers, including those in Adult Corrections, Youth Corrections and Sheriffs. The payment is calculated at $4 per straight-time hour covering a 16-week period retroactive to March 15, 2020. Eligible workers will receive the payment directly through their employer and do not need to apply.
This announcement is welcome news for all Component 1 members eligible to receive the pandemic pay, and comes at the end of many weeks of advocacy by the BCGEU and your Component 1 Executive. It is well deserved recognition for all the selfless and essential work you do on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Further information on pandemic pay can be found at the links below.
Provincial government announces details of pandemic pay program for essential workers
Pandemic pay supports front-line health, social workers
B.C. COVID-19 Temporary Pandemic Pay
Component 1 Chair & BCGEU Vice President
May 19, 2020
In mid-April 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-under the cost-share, the federal government is responsible for 75 per cent of the funding and the provincial governments are responsible for the remaining 25 per cent.
Ever since the initial announcement, your union has worked with our provincial government to ensure that B.C.'s program would cover the broadest possible group of BCGEU members working on the frontlines during COVID-19.
Today, the B.C. government announced the long-awaited details of the program. This program will impact different members differently and we are working with your component leadership to develop targeted bulletins. However, we wanted to ensure that all members got general information as quickly as possible. Here is what we know about the program based on today's announcement:
- The program will provide a lump-sum payment calculated at $4 per straight-time hour covering a 16-week period retroactive to March 15, 2020.
- Eligible workers must have worked straight-time hours during the 16-week period covered by the program.
- There is no minimum threshold on hours, so casual and on-call hours are eligible.
- Eligible workers will receive the payment directly from their employer and do not need to apply.
- Government will be working with your employer on details of the disbursement, which are still being worked out.
Our union worked hard to make sure the government took a broad approach to this program and, overall, we are happy with the outcome especially compared to other provinces. As a result of that approach, tens of thousands of BCGEU members will be covered including those providing care to our province's most vulnerable citizens in direct government, health services, and social services positions. Please read the full list here.
We applaud the objective of the pandemic pay program, we appreciate the efforts of our provincial government to consult with stakeholders-including our union-as they developed the program, and we are extremely pleased that the broad scope includes some of our lowest wage members doing some of the highest risk work. At the same time, we are disappointed that the government chose to exclude thousands more BCGEU members doing essential work.
Our feedback to government during the consultation was that the program should be extended to all frontline essential workers and that recognizing some groups of workers while leaving others out would create unnecessary divisions at a moment when unity and solidarity among workers is more important than ever. To be clear, our stance has not changed: We still believe B.C.'s pandemic pay program should cover all frontline essential workers in recognition of the extraordinary stress, additional costs, and higher risks to mental and physical health they are facing right now.
In the coming days we will be reaching out to the provincial government to vigorously restate our position, seek clarification on their choices, and continue to fight for more BCGEU members to be covered by the program.
BCGEU Executive Committee
May 19, 2020
BURNABY, B.C. – Today the B.C. government released long-awaited details of a federal-provincial cost-shared pandemic pay program to temporarily top up the wages of some essential workers. The B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) is calling on Victoria to expand the program to cover more essential frontline workers.
"The BCGEU pushed hard for this program to cover the broadest possible range of essential works and, as a result, B.C.'s program is significantly more inclusive than those in other provinces," said Stephanie Smith, president of the BCGEU. "We're happy that some of our lowest-wage members doing some of the highest-risk frontline jobs will be eligible. But the bottom line for us is that all frontline essential workers are shouldering an incredible burden in terms of increased cost, stress and inconvenience as well as increased risks to their emotional and physical health. All of these workers deserve recognition-not just some of them."
Under the program, which was first announced by the federal government in mid-April, tens of thousands of BCGEU members will be eligible for a lump-sum payment calculated at $4 per straight-time hour retroactive to March 15, 2020. BCGEU members covered by the program include those providing vital services to the province's most vulnerable citizens like corrections officers, social workers, employment assistance workers, and those who work in health care and social services. However, thousands more BCGEU members have been left out of the program including those in public liquor and cannabis stores and warehouses, maintaining supply chains for the restaurant industry as well as a critical revenue stream for the government during the pandemic.
"From the moment this funding was announced by the federal government, our goal as a union was to make sure B.C.'s program covered the broadest possible swath of frontline essential workers," says Stephanie Smith, BCGEU president. "And our goal hasn't changed. This kind of patchwork recognition creates arbitrary divisions at a moment when unity and solidarity among workers is more important than ever. We're grateful for those who are covered, but we will keep fighting for those who aren't."
In addition to pushing for broader eligibility for the program, the BCGEU is continuing to work with partners in the labour movement and the social justice community on leveraging the lessons of the pandemic to improve the lives of working people with a focus on issues like family-supporting wages, universal child care, and enhanced workplace safety-including paid sick leave.
The BCGEU is one of the largest, most diverse and fastest growing unions in B.C. with more than 80,000 members working in almost every community and economic sector in the province.
For more information, contact BCGEU Communications, email@example.com