December 11, 2017

BC Human Rights Commission - BCGEU

Today the report, A Human Rights Commission for the 21st Century: British Columbians talk about Human Rights was released detailing 25 recommendations to government as they re-establish the BC Human Rights Commission (dismantled in 2002 by the previous Liberal government).

The report recommends to B.C.'s Attorney General that the new commission be built on four important pillars in order to create a "strong and independent human rights system in B.C." These include: protecting the independence of the Human Rights Commission; continuing the direct-access Human Rights Tribunal, maintaining the Human Rights Clinic, which provides specialized information, advocacy and representation services; and lastly, that the Ministry of Attorney General assumes responsibility and oversight for the B.C. Human Rights Code, as well as the legislative framework necessary to protect persons from discrimination.

The independence of the commission, the purpose of the commission and how it will work with the existing Human Rights Tribunal and government, the powers of the commission, as well as its ability to call inquiries are all highlighted in the report's recommendations. These elements were also included in the BCGEU's submission to Parliamentary Secretary Ravi Kahlon during the stakeholder engagement process. As identified in the report, a core function of the commission is to provide broad education on human rights and to promote social change for British Columbians, which was also one of the key priorities identified by the union.

Two of the early priorities for the new commission will be: 1) working with Indigenous groups to develop policies and practices that honour the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (a recommendation also made by the BCGEU); and 2) reviewing and eliminating, where possible, unnecessary references to gender in public documents.

The union is pleased that the report also asks that a new commission review possible discrimination against foreign-earned credentials for workers. Historically, many workers coming to Canada have faced extreme difficulty getting employers, regulatory bodies and educational institutions to recognize their credentials. This is a welcome action for the new commission, as is the recommendation that it extend the time limit for filing complaints from six months to one year.

The BCGEU applauds the Parliamentary Secretary on his thorough and inclusive report, and urges that government fully implement the 25 recommendations in order to reestablish a strong and successful BC Human Rights Commission for the province. 


Click here to read previous posting

Download BCGEU Human Rights Submission as pdf 

December 11, 2017

BCGEU disappointed by decision to complete Site C dam, urges government to em...

The BCGEU is disappointed by the provincial government's decision today to complete the Site C dam despite findings by the BC Utilities Commission that question the economic viability of the project.

In 2015 the union took a position against the construction of the dam citing economic and environmental concerns as well infringement on First Nations' rights. This decision demonstrates the work still to be done to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in our province, as well as honouring treaties with the Crown. We reaffirm our union's commitment to standing with First Nations in realizing the larger goal of reconciliation in Canada.

The BCGEU also urges the government to ensure that unionized labour represented by a recognized trade union is employed in the completion and long-term maintenance of the project; takes the opportunity to provide apprenticeship opportunities to B.C. trades workers; and that further construction is conducted in the most environmentally sensitive way possible.







December 07, 2017

BCGEU remembers Leonard George - BCGEU

It is with tremendous sadness to learn of the passing of Tsleil-Waututh leader, Leonard George.

Leonard, served as Chief of the Tsleil-Waututh nation, was an iconic leader and teacher to thousands of people across British Columbia. In his special way, he was able to build bridges between communities and encouraged everyone to work together as one. His knowledge and wisdom drew many to his side with great respect. 

His fight for the rights of First Nations people brought understanding in ways that will continue to have an impact for many years to come.

His teachings have been passed to his children, grandchildren, his nation, his friends and the thousands of lives he touched during his life. 

Over the years, Leonard has come to speak to members of the BCGEU to pass on his message. On behalf of the 73,000 members of the BCGEU we send our deepest condolences to his family, friends and the whole of the Tsleil-Waututh nation. He will be deeply missed.


December 07, 2017

Statement on Fair Wages Commission - BCGEU

Today, December 7, is the final day to provide submissions to B.C.'s Fair Wages Commission. The BCGEU would like to mark this date by calling for the immediate implementation of a $15 per hour minimum wage for all workers in our province.

The BCGEU is a tireless advocate for fair wages for all workers. Daily, BCGEU members providing health and social services confront the consequences of low wages, poverty and growing inequality our province, including poor nutrition, inadequate housing, mental health and addictions issues. Many BCGEU members have themselves organized and struggled to earn more than the minimum wage. They know frsthand the positive difference that making a decent wage makes in their lives, and they want the same for all British Columbians – right now.

There is no good reason for British Columbians to wait for a higher minimum wage. The province's economy is very strong. And modern economic research has demonstrated that a reasonable increase in the minimum wage is good for workers and the economy.

Today, and every day, we call for an end to poverty wages in BC.

You can read our full submission to the Fair Wages Commission online

December 07, 2017

Watch Minister Eby's Address To C1 Conference Conference - BCGEU

Union activists from across the province gathered in Surrey BC this week to discuss important issues for Component 1 members.

We reviewed grievance arbitration, short term illness and injury plan (STIIP) and long term disability (LTD) issues, gangs and threats, pensions and more. 

We also were updated on the progress of sheriff retention and recruitment efforts. Attorney General David Eby sent a video message of support to the conference, citing retention and wages as key issues which need to be addressed. Watch Minister Eby's remarks here.

Additionally, Component 1 has added a deputy sheriff specific position to the component executive to enhance sheriff representation in our union. The first deputy sheriff representative is Mike Redlick from local 102 Nanaimo sheriffs, and the alternate is David Davidson from local 105 Kamloops sheriffs. 

In Solidarity,

Dean Purdy, Vice President, Component 1
Mike Redlick, Deputy Sheriff Representative, Component 1 

December 07, 2017

Watch Minister Farnworth's Address To C1 Conference - BCGEU


Union activists from across the province gathered in Surrey BC this week to discuss important issues for Component 1 members.

We reviewed grievance arbitration, short term illness and injury plan (STIIP) and long term disability (LTD) issues, gangs and threats, pensions and more. 
Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth sent a video message of support to the conference, citing retention and wages as key issues which need to be addressed. Watch Minister Farnworth's remarks here.

In Solidarity,

Dean Purdy, Vice President, Component 1

December 06, 2017

BCGEU Remembers Maureen Headley - BCGEU

I am saddened today to inform BCGEU members and staff that long-time former employee Maureen Headley passed away on Monday December 4 after a long fight with cancer.

Maureen worked at the BCGEU for over 12 years. She served BCGEU members as an organizer, as the assistant director of Membership Records, and as both assistant director and later as director of the Collective Bargaining & Arbitration Department.

After leaving the BCGEU, Maureen worked as a union-side labour lawyer for over a decade before joining the board of directors for the Health Sciences Association in 2006.

On behalf of all BCGEU members, I would like to extend my condolences to Maureen's family and friends.

Maureen's contributions to the labour movement in B.C. will not be forgotten.

Stephanie Smith
BCGEU President

December 05, 2017

BC’s Liquor Distribution Branch the right choice to manage cannabis - BCGEU


December 5, 2017

BC's Liquor Distribution Branch the right choice to manage cannabis


The B.C. government's decision to make the Liquor Distribution Branch responsible for the distribution of non-medical cannabis is the right choice for British Columbia, the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union said today.

"We applaud the BC government's decision to warehouse and distribute cannabis through the Liquor Distribution Branch," says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "It is the right choice for British Columbians."

The government release notes that they anticipate establishing a public-private retail model for non-medical cannabis. Although the announcement doesn't provide details about the retail model, the BCGEU in partnership with ABLE BC since 2015 to advocate for a distribution and retail system that includes public and private liquor stores as primary retails outlets.

"We are encouraged that the government is seriously considering a public-private retail structure for the sale of cannabis in British Columbia," says Smith. "BC's public and private liquor stores have a proven track record over many decades, selling controlled alcohol products to adults in a responsible manner. We look forward to seeing the detailed proposal as soon as it is available."

The BCGEU is one of the largest unions in British Columbia, representing over 73,000 members in direct government service, the broader public sector and service sectors across the province, including members working in the B.C Liquor Distribution Branch.




December 05, 2017

National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women - BCGEU


December 6: 


National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women

December 6th is a dark day in our country’s history. It marks the anniversary of the 1989 École Polytechnique Massacre in Montreal, in which 14 women were singled out for their gender and killed.

The 14 women slain in this horrific act of misogyny and gender-based violence were Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, Annie Turcotte and Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz.

Now known as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, December 6th is commemorated every year in Canada and is often marked by candlelit vigils and other events.

“Today, let’s all take a moment to remember not only the young women killed in Montreal, but all women whose lives have been lost to violence,” said Stephanie Smith, BCGEU President. “Together, we must all take action and get involved to help eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls.”





Here are some events happening around BC:


  • A Dinner Educational: Taking Action Against Violence against Women (New Westminster)


  • Cowichan Women Against Violence Candlelight Vigil


  • Richmond Vigil: National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women


  • Surrey: Heart to Heart – Violence Against Women


  • Surrey: End Violence Against Women 7th Annual Candlelit Vigil



The Facts:


Here are a few statistics from the World Health Organization and the Canadian Women’s Foundation:


  • Approximately every six days, a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner.
  • Aboriginal women are killed at six times the rate of non-aboriginal women.
  • 67% of Canadians say they have personally known at least one woman who has experienced physical or sexual abuse.
  • On any given night in Canada, 3,491 women and their 2,724 children sleep in shelters because it isn't safe at home.
  • Global estimates published by WHO indicate that about 1 in 3 (35%) of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime.
  • Globally, as many as 38% of murders of women are committed by a male intimate partner.
  • Violence against women – particularly intimate partner violence and sexual violence – is a major public health problem and a violation of women's human rights.




Battered Women’s Support Services:

Canadian Women’s Foundation:









December 05, 2017

BCGEU welcomes wildfire review - BCGEU


BCGEU welcomes wildfire review


The BC Government and Service Employees' Union welcomes the BC government's announcement of an independent review of wildfire and flood response today.

"Our members, who provide on-the-ground emergency fire and flood response across the province, are happy to hear that the government has initiated a review of the catastrophic natural events of the past year," says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "We look forward to engaging with the independent review panel, to make suggestions on how to improve the province's response to these events going forward."

"We have some of the best frontline staff in the province and the country," says BCGEU Environmental, Technical and Operational component vice president George Buis. "I know they will share their experiences and lessons learned from this flood and fire season to help our future response efforts. We welcome the opportunity to contribute to this work."

BCGEU members provide direct wildfire protection services across the province, as well as provincial emergency response services to British Columbia communities.




December 01, 2017

Ministry resources new Overdose Emergency Response Centre, more staff to step...

Victoria – Today the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions announced an escalation of their emergency response to the overdose crisis. To deal with the deepening crisis across the province, the government is setting up a centralized Overdose Emergency Response Centre to coordinate a response to the overdose crisis that spans the province.

“Seeing the government move forward with creating new full-time jobs to tackle this crisis is an extremely welcome development” said Stephanie Smith, BCGEU President. “Up until now, the response to the overdose crisis has fallen disproportionately on front line workers and members of the community who have stepped up in compassionate response. With a new comprehensive approach to resourcing the response there is hope we can start to turn the corner on the crisis.” 

The new response centre will have a $6 million annual budget through to 2020. This will assist, among other things, in bringing together the many different public actors that have been dealing with issues related to the crisis, including: provincial ministries, health authorities, municipal and Indigenous governments, and law enforcement. 

In the last year there have already been over 1100 overdose related deaths linked to fentanyl. The crisis has left families and communities trying to heal from the anguish of losing loved ones, as well as many workers in government agencies and front-line community services with serious trauma related to their work as first responders in many overdose cases.

Over the last twelve months, the BCGEU has consulted with members across the province to hear about how the crisis is affecting them, in particular, the mental health impacts for front line workers who act as first responders.  A small number of those stories have been shared with the public at

“The experience of our members, many of whom have been working as de-facto first responders, has been instrumental in helping us understand the cumulative impacts of this crisis on our communities and the networks of organizations and agencies that support them,” said Smith. “We will continue to support the fine work of members through the new emergency response centre, and where appropriate, seek to provide expert advice to the Ministry through the newly implemented structure.”

The BCGEU is British Columbia's fastest growing union, with more than 73,000 members working in direct government service, the broader public sector and private service sectors. 


November 28, 2017

Sacred Water Ceremony - BCGEU

National Aboriginal Peoples Circle
Vancouver Island Human Rights Committee

Presents a


According to Vice News Canada, as of July 31 2017, there were a total of 121 First Nations under 172 drinking water advisories across Canada.


Join Todd Smith, PSAC A/Regional Executive Vice-President, and Sussanne Skidmore, BCGEU Executive Vice-President, and stand in solidarity with Indigenous people.

Walk with us in a …


To be held on the traditional lands of the Coast Salish Lekwungen – Songhees & Esquimalt First Nations


  • Start at 1:00PM, Douglas Street at Dallas Road
  • End at 4:30PM, Victoria Inner Harbour
  • Speakers and reflection along the route
  • Full itinerary and details at
  • More information at

Sacred Water Itinerary 

Sacred Water Ceremony Poster 



November 28, 2017

BCGEU launches housing affordability plan - BCGEU

Following the launch of a campaign on housing affordability earlier this month, the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) has released a report detailing recommendations on how the province can solve the housing affordability crisis.

The Building an Affordable B.C. report provides recommendations aimed at tackling the root of the housing crisis: speculation on the part of financial institutions and wealthy investors in the housing market.



November 21, 2017

On the National Inquiry into into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and G...

On November 1, 2017 the commissioners for the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls released their interim report, Our Women and Girls are Sacred. As an organization with standing in the Inquiry, the BCGEU has carefully reviewed the 118-page report which clearly demonstrates the enormous scope of the Inquiry.

The report includes some very startling statistics – Indigenous women are 12 times more likely to be murdered or go missing than any other group of women in Canada, and 16 times more likely than Caucasian women. Intimate partner violence rates are also higher with 52 per cent of those reporting fearing for their lives.

The report also asserts that providing and adequately resourcing early intervention programs and supports within Canada's justice system, child welfare systems, hospitals, and prison systems – as well as tackling systemic discrimination – is crucial to ending violence against Indigenous women and girls, and to help heal the wounds of colonization.

Despite the breadth of this report, it is concerning that there is very little discussion on the perspectives of Indigenous LGBTQ, non-binary and Two-Spirited people. Further, media attention around the report's release has been limited and has focused mainly on the recommendation that a police task force be created immediately.

There is much criticism as well from family members, Aboriginal leaders and organizations asking that the Inquiry be restarted. It is understandable that there would be criticism but it is also important for there to be solidarity for those that are participating and telling their stories.

In September, BCGEU Executive Vice-President Kari Michaels travelled to Smithers to join the Tears for Justice anniversary walk and had the opportunity to attend an Inquiry hearing. "It was incredibly important to me that I was able to attend one of the hearings as a witness to the truth-telling and healing process for the families who shared their stories of the devastating impact this had on their lives," said Michaels. "The process of reconciliation and decolonization requires us (non-indigenous people and specifically white people) to hear hard truths, to share the pain that has been felt by so many in our communities, and to move forward with a deeper understanding and relationship – that means showing up and listening. If you have the chance to attend it is absolutely necessary to go to these hearings."

Themes that have arisen from hearings and meetings held so far – including racism, addictions, child and family services, poverty, family violence, lack of trauma supports, gangs and human trafficking – are all themes our members have identified in BCGEU reports such as Collective Wisdom: Challenges and Opportunities in B.C. Women's Services, as well as in Closing the Circle: a case for reinvesting in Aboriginal child, youth and family services in British Columbia.

BCGEU members throughout the province have front-line experience, knowledge and expertise on the issue of violence against Indigenous women and girls. This is why it is so important for the union to support and contribute to this Inquiry so we as Canadians can put an end to the violence, and ensure that no more sisters are lost.

The union expects to submit its report to the Inquiry in Spring 2018.

November 20, 2017

­­B.C.’s fastest growing union launches housing affordability plan - BCGEU

­­B.C.'s fastest growing union launches housing affordability plan



Following the launch of a campaign on housing affordability earlier this month, the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) has released a report detailing recommendations on how the province can solve the housing affordability crisis.


The Building an Affordable B.C. report provides recommendations aimed at tackling the root of the housing crisis: speculation on the part of financial institutions and wealthy investors in the housing market.


The report's recommendations include three broad goals:


  1. Reforming property taxes to target speculators and raise funds for affordable housing and infrastructure.
  2. Amending legislation to protect renters and better regulate real estate transactions.
  3. Investing in new affordable public housing and infrastructure.


This report is part of a larger campaign by the BCGEU to tackle housing affordability in B.C. Two weeks ago, the union launched, which includes a petition calling on Premier John Horgan to implement these recommendations. The petition has over 1,800 signatures as of November 20.


"Every day more and more BCGEU members find it increasingly difficult to live in their communities," says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "The rising cost of housing is forcing many to leave their communities, while others are leaving the province altogether. We need to do something before our communities are hollowed out."


B.C. has become the most expensive province to buy or rent a home in Canada. The average home price in B.C. is now close to $694,000. While the crisis is felt most acutely in B.C.'s largest cities, this crisis is affecting communities across the province.


Earlier this year, Vancouver was named North America's least affordable city, ranking above cities like San Francisco and Manhattan. The median home in Vancouver now costs 17.3 times the median annual household income.


At the BCGEU's 50th Constitutional Convention in June, members passed multiple resolutions calling for action on housing affordability, and this campaign was developed and launched as a result of that action.


"Wages can no longer keep up with the rising cost of living," says BCGEU treasurer Paul Finch. "No realistic wage increase can make up for the extra costs our members are paying in housing, which means that the most effective way for BCGEU members to protect their incomes - and those of all working people - is to work towards the stabilization of housing prices and creation of more affordable rental units."


The full report can be downloaded at


For more information contact Bronwen Barnett, BCGEU Communications | e: | c: 604-719-4713





November 18, 2017

Human Rights Commission - BCGEU

As you may be aware, the province has been undertaking steps to reinstate the BC Human Rights Commission. The BCGEU is pleased to hear that the provincial government is taking this step and that the province has called on all British Columbians to engage in the process by sharing their thoughts and opinions on what the commission should look like.

The BCGEU has developed a submission that brings the voice and experience of the union to the process. You can read our official submission here.

On November 14, 2017, BCGEU President Stephanie Smith and Executive Vice President Sussanne Skidmore (Chair, BCGEU Equity and Human Rights Committee) met with Parliamentary Secretary for Sport and Multiculturalism Ravi Kahlon to provide our submission as part of the consultation process and to discuss key priorities.

During the meeting, the importance of maintaining the independence of the commission was strongly communicated by the union so that future governments cannot dismantle it (as was done by the previous Liberal government in 2002). Some of the other key priorities identified by the union include: 

  1. Ensuring that the commission provides broad education about human rights. In the past, lack of education has prevented many British Columbians from coming forward. The new commission should also be a centre for research on human rights.
  2. Incorporating the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as well as the findings from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission when dealing with Indigenous issues.
  3. Providing the power and ability to audit organizations, offer education, advocate for human rights, and undertake public inquiries. 

In the view of the BCGEU, advancing these priorities is essential for creating a commission that is adequately empowered to advocate for and protect the rights of individuals, communities, and workers. We look forward to the reinstatement of the commission and hope that the recommendations by the BCGEU are considered in establishing a successful new human rights body for British Columbians. 


Download BCGEU Human Rights Submission as pdf

November 09, 2017

BCGEU out of gate early with public service bargaining conferences - BCGEU

VANCOUVER – The B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) is ramping up pre-bargaining efforts by conducting bargaining conferences this week, even though most collective agreements aren't set to expire until 2019.

Delegates from across the province gathered in Vancouver to hammer out bargaining priorities for upcoming negotiations, which are expected to take place in the new year.

"A year and a half may seem a long time, but there are important issues that require urgent attention," says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "British Columbians can't wait a year and a half for real solutions."

"There are so many priorities that need immediate attention – from enhancing child protection services identified in the Plecas report, to solving recruitment and retention issues across key sectors, and ensuring adequate resources for people affected by the opioid crisis. We have an opportunity to address the erosion of public services, and we're eager to get to work."

Members from across the public services sector have expressed concern that 16 years of restraint have eroded wage parity with the private sector, leading to serious recruitment and retention issues in key areas.

"Unfilled vacancies, unsustainable workloads and uncompetitive wages have created a siege mentality in many workplaces," says Smith. "Social workers, sheriffs, corrections officers and community social service workers are just a few areas that need immediate attention."

The BCGEU is British Columbia's fastest growing union, with more than 73,000 members working in direct government service, the broader public sector and service sectors in British Columbia.



November 08, 2017

Aboriginal Veterans Day - BCGEU

On November 8th we, as Canadians, honor and celebrate the great contributions and sacrifices that Aboriginal peoples have made in defending Canada during times of war. Aboriginal veterans have participated in all major wars since the war of 1812 and enlist in higher proportion than any other group in Canada. 

The BCGEU is honored this year to sponsor the luncheon for veterans at the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Center after the ceremony at the Victory Square cenotaph.

For many, enlisting presented many challenges such as: learning English, leaving their communities for the first time, or leaving behind family. As challenging as these are, they were also expected to adjust to a new culture. As we have seen throughout history, as with all Aboriginal peoples, they showed their strength and resilience and not only adjusted but excelled. Many of Canada's most decorated soldiers have been Aboriginal. Canada's military continues to see many Aboriginal recruits.

Today we honor Aboriginal veterans – and those currently serving – by giving thanks for their contributions and sacrifices. Their contributions to the freedoms we enjoy in Canada cannot be forgotten.