COVID-19 resources & information for Public Service Members
Last week, your union sent out a bulletin (read it here) about discussions that we’ve held with the Public Service Agency (PSA) about how COVID-19 will be handled at work. As a result of our ongoing discussions with the PSA, they have issued updated versions of the two documents we shared last week:
COVID-19 News for Public Service Members
May 27, 2020
Pandemic pay eligibility for BCGEU members at MCFD
Since the B.C. government's announcement last week, your union has received many questions from administrative support workers in MCFD about their eligibility. While we had hoped the ministry would provide clarification, we haven't seen anything yet.
However, following discussions with the employer, we can now confirm all administrative employees in MCFD's Service Delivery Division will receive the premium.
This is an unusual circumstance. The BCGEU was consulted about the premium, but this didn't amount to negotiations. Our feedback to government during the consultation was this - the program should be extended to all frontline essential workers and that recognizing some groups of workers while excluding others would create unnecessary divisions.
Our stance hasn't 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 the higher risks to mental and physical health they're presently facing.
Questions about eligibility for this premium should be directed to your ministry, where the decision was made.
We wanted to ensure administrative staff in this particular division know that they will receive the premium.
Maria Middlemiss, BCGEU VP administrative services
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 15, 2020
Component 1 Update: May 15, 2020
Corrections' New Normal
The government introduced BC's Restart Plan last week but we can expect the safeguards to prevent an outbreak of COVID-19 that have been put in place in B.C.'s corrections centres to remain for the foreseeable future. We may see an effort by the employer to expand visits and programs, but your union will ensure that any movement in that direction will proceed safely.
Sheriff Risk Assessment
In contrast to the forecast for corrections, dramatic changes in the worksite will be happening for sheriffs as the courthouses reopen. To ensure that happens safely your union began working with the employer on a risk assessment this week. The assessment will cover workplace changes for sheriffs in the weeks and months to come. Local 104 member at large Rick Holzapfel, l;ocal 103 member at large and component 1 executive (sheriffs) member Dave Iorizzo will be representing your union in the risk assessment. Local 104 chair Brandon Cox and BCGEU staff representative Brian Campbell will also be available as resources. Dave Iorizzo will oversee this provincially and will report to me directly.
Force Options Training – Exposure Control Plan
Last week Force Options Training (FOT) was completed at OCC as a pilot project under an Exposure Control Plan (ECP), which was largely based on a provincial risk assessment developed through the hard work of local 104 chair Brandon Cox, local 105 chair Krissie Hayes, and BCGEU staff representative Brian Campbell. local 107 chair Scott Cudney attended the training at OCC on behalf of component 1. The ECP was adjusted by the employer following the pilot project at OCC. FOT started on Wednesday at SPSC and FRCC. Local 104 chair Brandon Cox and Local 104 JOHS co-chair Kyle McLellan are participating in observer and consultative roles on behalf of the BCGEU.
FOT will begin at VIRCC and KRCC the week of May 25, 2020. I will attend these sessions on behalf of the union along with Local 105 chair Krissie Hayes. We will keep you updated as we receive notice of FOT for the remainder of the jails.
Pandemic Pay Premium
The BCGEU is continuing to push for a pandemic pay premium for all essential workers in B.C. President Stephanie Smith has spoken directly with government officials, including Finance Minister Carole James about this pressing issue. Thus far we have received no further information from government, but are hoping for an announcement soon. This is a critical issue for the BCGEU and we will continue to pursue it.
Correctional officers and sheriffs are recognized as first responders in B.C. and work in the same dangerous and close environments as frontline healthcare workers. And, for the same reasons some healthcare workers are receiving additional pay for their selfless efforts on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, so too should correctional officers and sheriffs. The BCGEU will continue to fight for this recognition.
Victoria Day Long Weekend
Thank you to all component 1 members who work hard each day to ensure the safety of all British Columbians! I know you put your safety at risk every day preventing and responding to emergencies of all types. Hopefully all of you have an opportunity to enjoy some part of the Victoria Day long weekend – at a safe social distance of course - and hopefully we get some sunshine.
Component 1 Chair & BCGEU Vice-President
May 08, 2020
Component 1 Update: May 8, 2020
Provincial Officer Safety (COVID-19) Risk Assessment
We are pleased that the Adult Custody Division (ACD) has adopted most of the recommendations in the Provincial Officer Safety (COVID-19) Risk Assessment (completed by local 104 chair Brandon Cox, local 105 chair Krissie Hayes and BCGEU staff representative Brian Campbell). However, the ACD has failed to implement some key recommendations: including the installation of plexiglas barriers at officer workstations, and limiting the number of inmates officers have to travel with in elevators. These are key concerns for us and we have begun addressing them with WorkSafeBC. Barring a resolution at that level, we will be pursuing these issues with the Minister directly.
Provincial SO Force Options Training Risk Assessment – Exposure Control Plan
Despite the fact that we did not agree with terms of the Provincial Force Options Training Risk Assessment, the ACD implemented its own Exposure Control Plan for security officer training at Okanagan Correctional Centre this week. We have maintained some oversight over that training, but feel that a number of items need to be added to the ACD's Exposure Control Plan, including:
- Whenever possible, force options training should occur outdoors.
- ERT members, not recruits, should play the roles of inmates or second staff.
- The same training partners should work together for the duration of the training day.
- Union safety representatives appointed by local chairs should have a consultative role in training.
The BCGEU is continuing its fight for a pandemic premium for all essential frontline workers in recognition of their selfless efforts during these difficult times. So far we have not succeeded in this fight, but we will continue to pursue it at all levels, until you receive the fair compensation to which you are entitled.
As first responders, corrections officers and sheriffs work in the same kind of close and dangerous environments as healthcare workers on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic. And, for the same reasons that frontline healthcare workers such as nurses are receiving a premium for their brave response to the COVID-19 pandemic, so too should corrections officers and sheriffs be fairly compensated for their unwavering willingness to go into work each day and expose themselves, and their families, to the same dangers. Corrections officers and sheriffs are both entitled to receive a pandemic response premium, and the BCGEU will continue to fight for this principle.
The BCGEU recommends that members file WorkSafeBC claims if they believe they were exposed to COVID-19 at work, are awaiting COVID-19 test results, or were infected with COVID-19 at work. Please be aware WorkSafeBC holds incoming COVID-19 claims for 14 days, or until a worker becomes ill, before adjudicating them.
The BCGEU has ordered cloth masks for Component 1 members. We understand your concerns and we stand in solidarity. The masks will be sent to the jails and court houses for distribution.
Fraser Regional Correctional Center members
Dean Purdy's Message to Members
Please click here to see Dean's message to members
Component 1 Chair & BCGEU Vice President
May 05, 2020
New Voluntary Process - COVID Screening for Symptomatic Employees
If you call in with COVID-19 symptoms or report them when you arrive at work, the Employer will offer you an opportunity to participate in a new COVID-19 screening process developed by the Government's Occupational Health and Rehabilitation group. Please note, this process is voluntary. If you choose not to participate you will be directed to 811 for testing and advice.
April 24, 2020
We continue to receive information that public areas of some essential service workplaces still lack proper protection for workers.
BCGEU members have reported concerns about possible exposure to COVID-19 in front offices and lobbies. If this is the case in your workplace, please report it to MCFD at this email address: [email protected]. This is the centralized email address the ministry has developed to allow employees to forward whatever health and safety concerns they may have for management's consideration.
Where there are concerns about public areas, the most important thing you can do right now is report this directly to the employer using the email address above. We also want to be aware of these issues, however, so please copy us on your message using the address: [email protected].
Your union continues to work directly with the ministry on COVID matters as they develop.
Maria Middlemiss, BCGEU VP component 12
Judy Fox-McGuire, BCGEU VP component 6
April 20, 2020
The information contained in this FAQ applies to BCGEU members who work for direct government in the B.C. public service.
Updated material is in red.
April 09, 2020
We continue to be very busy all around the province in Adult Custody, Youth Custody and Sheriff Services. As of today, there is still only one positive inmate case of COVID-19 and as you are aware this is at OCC. There have been many rumors going around so I hope this will help dispel some of them.
Safety and risk assessments
We are communicating with ACD regularly to ensure measures continue to be taken to keep you safe at work, and your Union is participating in a number of COVID-19 risk assessments that relate to all your worksites.
Component 1 is currently conducting three separate joint risk assessments for adult custody jails. Local 104 chair Brandon Cox, Local 105 chair Krissie Hayes and BCGEU OH&S staff representative Brian Campbell are working with the ACD on the following risk assessments:
- Isolation living units for inmates who are symptomatic or test positive for COVID-19: Done. Contact your Local Chair or OHS Committee member for more information.
- Force Options Training for New Recruits (Component 1 Executive does not agree to sign off on this. See below.)
- Officer Safety- Physical Distancing & Person Protective Equipment (PPE) The priority is making sure officers have access to masks and that plexiglass barriers are put in place on Officers desks and other areas around the jails.
The Provincial Risk Assessment that was conducted jointly on the Force Options Training was not able to be signed off by the union because unfortunately, for this particular provincial risk assessment the BCGEU does not agree that the mitigating steps recommended in the RA are in line with the Provincial Health Officer's (PHO) orders on physical distancing set forth to reduce the spread of COVID-19. As well, we have concerns that should someone be hurt during the training and require medical treatment; they will unnecessarily add pressure to an already strained health care system while the public health emergency continues.
For these reasons, we recommend the Force Options training be postponed until the PHO relaxes the orders on physical distancing.
The Officer Safety Joint Provincial Risk Assessment is ongoing this week. It is your Component Executive's opinion that officers should be allowed to wear masks while working on the front lines of all ten of our provincial jails. This is about protecting our officers but also the inmate population from getting infected and spreading the virus further. We say that the employer should provide masks, 3M 1/2 face respirators for all staff, as well as plexiglass barriers as required. Please see this article regarding the use of masks in federal prisons: https://www.citynews1130.com/2020/04/06/guards-inmates-at-federal-prisons-set-to-receive-masks/
Priority Testing for Corrections
The Centre for Disease Control gave corrections the same designation as health care workers where we now get priority testing for COVID-19 and receive the results back within 24 to 48 hours.
Doctors Notes & STO2's
Currently no STO2 is required to begin a STIIP claim if for valid COVID-19 related reasons. However, the employer may ask for a doctor's certificate as you claim progresses. Further general information can be found at the BCGEU website page dedicated to COVID-19.
Our union continues to push for danger pay for all Public Service essential service workers including First Responders Correctional Officers & Sheriffs who are going to work every day putting their lives and the lives of their families at risk working in very dangerous conditions inside our maximum and medium security correctional centres. We believe both Corrections & Sheriffs should receive fair compensation for danger pay because of the onerous conditions we have to work and having to respond to constant emergencies that puts us a constant risk to exposure. Please see the BCGEU's letter to the government in this regard: https://www.bcgeu.ca/bcgeu_letter_to_the_psa_covid-19_update
Currently public service employees who are unable to work due to COVID-19, whether sick or otherwise required to self-isolate, are entitled to receive STIIP benefits of 75% pay. Our union is also advocating on your behalf to be able to receive full pay when told to self-isolate or when you become infected with COVID-19. Again, we believe both Corrections & Sheriffs should receive fair compensation for danger pay because of the onerous conditions we have to work and having to respond to constant emergencies that puts us a constant risk to exposure.
COVID-19 related absences and attendance records
ACD will not be considering COVID-19 related absences for the purposes of attendance management programs and EPDPs.
Sheriff redeployment opportunity
In an effort to boost its response to COVID-19, the on April 7, 2020 the Government announced an opportunity for Public Service workers to redeploy to YVR as Processing Officers and Supervisors, and as Quarantine Officers.
Childcare for essential workers
A reminder that the government has developed a 0-5-year-old child care program for essential workers. Please check the BC Government website for further information: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2020CFD0017-000599. Your union is currently waiting to hear what supports are available for school age children as that is also impacting our members. We will inform members as soon as we have an answer.