COVID-19 News for Community Social Services Members
December 16, 2020
As we stated in our November 30th bulletin to you, we are aware of the ongoing delay of the Provincial Government's Temporary Pandemic Pay (TPP) at certain Community Social Services (CSS) worksites around the province. The President and BCGEU representatives conferenced with various ministry officials several times over the last two weeks to get answers and a timeline for distribution of the TPP.
On December 14th, in response to pressure from the BCGEU, Government acknowledged that this delay was unacceptable, apologized for the delay, and assured us that all TPP funds will be distributed to CSS employers. Their full response is captured at:
We share your frustration in these unacceptable delays and we will continue to pressure Government to get the TPP to you as soon as possible.
Government is providing additional resources to ensure that TPP applications are processed as quickly as possible. We are encouraged that since our entreaties to Government, we have seen an increase in the distribution of TPP to many more CSS agencies. Once in your employer's hands, it is up to individual employers to distribute the TPP to you. We are further encouraged that many employers are also making the distribution a priority.
We will continue to monitor the distribution of the TPP to our members and to press Government to keep this as a priority.
Thank you again for the important work you do for our communities around British Columbia.
Vice President, Component 3
December 01, 2020
As you are aware, many members working in community social services have been patiently waiting for the distribution of the provincial government's COVID-19 Temporary Pandemic Pay (TPP).
Your union understands that the continued delay of TPP funds is unacceptable and frustrating. That's why your union has sent a letter to the new Minister of Finance calling on the provincial government to immediately distribute these funds. Read the letter here.
Further delays are not acceptable. As BCGEU President Stephanie Smith states in the letter, "I'm sure you understand that the delay is not only frustrating for our members, but it significantly undermines our shared belief that your government values the contributions that working British Columbians have made throughout the pandemic."
Your union recognizes the incredible pressures you are faced with during these challenging, uncertain times, and we will continue pressing the government until the TPP funds are dispersed. Thank you for all you do.
Download Ltr to Minister Robinson here
October 07, 2020
Your union has confirmed updated information about the Temporary Pandemic Pay (TPP) program.
In a shift from what was originally announced, the TPP will now be applied to all overtime hours worked by eligible employees in addition to regular hours worked.
Your employer must submit a detailed invoice to the ministry outlining TPP-eligible hours by October 31, 2020. TPP payments will be processed once those invoices have been received. While this change to program parameters will require additional administrative work for your employer before submitting invoices for processing, it is our understanding that the submission deadline for invoices-and, therefore, the timeline for payment-has not changed.
We will continue working with your employer to confirm timelines for payment in light of the changes to eligible hours and will share that information when we have it.
September 18, 2020
As you are aware, the provincial government introduced the COVID-19 Temporary Pandemic Pay (TPP) program in May 2020. The program provides a wage top up of $4 per hour to eligible community social services (CSS) workers for the period of March 15 to July 4, 2020.
The BCGEU lobbied aggressively for this program and other benefits including sick leave coverage, access to PPE and appropriate health and safety training and, while we were successful in securing the TPP for you, this benefit falls outside of your collective agreement and employers and provincial funders control the application, eligibility and disbursal processes.
The government has just recently reached out to employers with the application process. That means that much of the work remains to be done before the TPP is actually in the hands of workers. The provincial government website was updated recently to indicate that TPP payments to workers will likely occur in October. You can access the website here.
The Government website (updated to September 17) states that:
Eligible employees must have:
- Worked straight-time hours at any point during the 16-week period starting on March 15, 2020 and ending July 4, 2020
- Worked in an eligible sector, workplace and role that traditionally deliver in-person, front-line care in health, social services and corrections where social distancing was challenging, including those that may have had to transition from an on-site workplace to a remote format
According to the website, eligible roles in the CSS sector include:
- Community support workers
- Employment support workers
- Residence workers
- Adult/youth workers
- Transition house workers
- Stopping the violence counsellors
- Victim service workers
- Emergency shelter workers
- Program coordinators
- Occupational and physical therapists
- Behavioural therapists
- Family preservation workers
- Domestic violence workers
- Social workers
- Child and youth mental health workers
- Indigenous service workers
- Administrative and client support roles
- Essential operation support staff, including:
o Maintenance workers
o Food service workers
o Passenger vehicle drivers
o Other key roles.
We encourage workers and, in particular, stewards to confirm with their employers that all straight time hours worked for these eligible positions from March 15 through July 4 receive the TPP top up. If there is any indication that you will not receive the TPP, involve your steward and, if necessary, a steward may consult with a staff representative.
Component 3 Vice President
Download PDF of notice here
June 17, 2020
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the order of the Solicitor General under the Emergency Program Act deeming workers in the community social services sector to be essential, vacation requests in some workplaces may not have been granted since mid-March of this year. If this situation continues, vacation credits may accrue to unusually high levels and create significant challenges for approvals and accommodations of requests for the remainder of the year. Members may be prevented from taking sufficient vacation time to rest and rejuvenate from the challenging work that you perform.
As the parties look ahead to managing vacations for the remainder of the calendar year and in light of the uncertainties around the unfolding of the pandemic, CSSBA and CSSEA agreed to certain principles that our members and employers can use to guide the vacation scheduling process in the event that the regular scheduling process under the Collective Agreement is not fully addressing these challenges.
These guiding principles are in effect until December 31, 2020 and are intended to enable members and employers to reach agreement on how to utilize vacation credits for the remainder of this calendar year, while ensuring that employees receive their full entitlement of vacation.
Article 18 – Annual Vacation applies unless the member(s) and the employer agree to vary those terms using the principles outlined in the agreement.
Members and employers are not obligated to depart from the full and usual application of Article 18. This is voluntary.
As a starting point, employers should be making every effort possible to approve vacation requests using the provisions of Article 18 – Annual Vacation.
If this is not possible as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, then our members or employers can initiate discussions using the agreed upon principles to resolve vacation scheduling issues in individual workplaces.
Variations to Article 18 can be triggered by members or employers, but must be agreed upon by both.
If variations to Article 18 are necessary to facilitate scheduling of vacation entitlements, and members or employers want to vary those terms, they should do so as soon as possible. Once an agreement is reached, the employer is required to provide a copy of the agreement to your area office staff representative.
If you do not agree with an employer proposal you must immediately advise your shop steward or, in the absence of a shop steward, contact your area office, so that they can assist in the negotiation of a fair resolution.
Thank you again for the work you are doing to keep our most vulnerable members of society safe and supported.
To read the full agreement, click here, Vacation Letter of Understanding.
Component 3, Vice-President
June 03, 2020
As you are aware, the federal and provincial governments have worked together to provide front line workers with access to COVID-19 Temporary Pandemic Pay. For further information on this temporary program, go here. There is ongoing uncertainty about how the provincial government intends to apply this pay across all of the workers in the community social services (CSS) sector.
At present, we understand that it is government's position that to be eligible for pandemic pay, a worker must:
- Have been working straight-time hours at any point during the 16-week period starting on March 15, 2020, at the height of the province's response to the pandemic; casual, on-call, and part-time workers who have worked straight-time hours during this period are also eligible
- Work in an eligible sector, workplace and role delivering in-person, front line care
- Provide additional support and relief to front line workers by working in ways that directly serve vulnerable populations.
Most employees in the CSS sector are eligible for pandemic pay provided that they:
- are covered by one of the three CSS sectoral collective agreements (Community Living, General Services, or Indigenous Services)
- work in bargaining unit equivalent (BUE)
- worked straight-time hours at any point during the 16-week period starting March 15th; workers on leaves of absences, whether paid or unpaid, are not eligible for pandemic pay during the period of leave; for workers who work primarily remotely, it is unclear as to eligibility and employers are advised to check with their funder(s)
Government has indicated that the following workers are not eligible for pandemic pay:
- excluded management staff or fee for service providers
- employees working in a child care program
- employees working in a Non-Provincially Funded (NPF) program
- employees receiving equivalent compensation as part of BC Housing's Safe Staffing Strategy
Please see our prior advocacy for pandemic pay for all workers in this sector (see previous bulletins here):
Fair pay and safe working conditions – COVID-19 update, Component 3
- BCGEU calls for expansion of B.C.'s pandemic pay program for essential workers
In addition, your bargaining association, led by the BCGEU, wrote to B.C. Finance Minister Carole James on May 27 to request a broader application of pandemic pay to ensure all workers in the community social services sector are eligible. You can see that letter here.
Our union just launched a campaign today encouraging members to send an email to their MLA and MP telling them that all frontline workers deserve pandemic pay. Check out the campaign here.
We will continue to advocate on behalf of all workers in the community social services sector to obtain equal application of pandemic pay to all workers providing or supporting the provision of these vital services to vulnerable children and adults in British Columbia.
Andrea Duncan, Component 3 Vice-President
May 25, 2020
Single Site Scheduling Strive Living Society (CSS) Sites
We are writing with important information about scheduling for employees affected by the Provincial Health Officer's Single Site Order.
This e-mail applies to you if you work at any of the following worksites: Freedom Place, Hollypark Lodge, or Liberty Place. The Single Site Order restricts workers to working at only one Assisted Living, Long Term Care or Provinicial Mental Health Facility. If you don't work at one of these sites, 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 protected] 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.
If this process is not being followed, or you have questions or concerns, please email [email protected].
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
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