The BC Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) applauds today's announcement by the provincial government that it will build 1,500 new supportive housing units throughout the province for women and children fleeing violence. Over the next 10 years, government will invest $734 million to build this much-needed housing which includes transition houses, safe homes, second-stage and long-term housing.
In 2017, the BCGEU released its report Collective wisdom: challenges and opportunities in B.C. women's services which described a sector greatly undermined by inadequate public funding. Among the report's recommendations was to improve women's services by investing in safe and affordable housing for women and children.
"A long-term lack of funding for housing programs amounted to a complete failure to provide enough safe and affordable housing for the province's most vulnerable, especially women and children," says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "This investment, the first of its kind in 20 years, will reduce this pressure – both for the women and children in need, as well as for the workers that care for and support them."
The BCGEU's report was the result of a March 2017 structured dialogue on issues facing the sector in which 60 BCGEU members who work in community social services (component 3) provided their input.
"Workers in this sector, which is largely made up of women helping vulnerable women, face significant challenges in providing resources where and when they are needed," says BCGEU component 3 vice president Andrea Duncan. "During our 2017 dialogue, our members made clear the urgent need for government to reinvest in vital public and community social services. We are so pleased to see government recognize this need and take action to provide this supportive housing."
The BCGEU is one of the largest and most diverse unions in British Columbia with over 75,000 members and represents over 1,500 workers in women's services throughout the province.