January 15, 2018

BCGEU Defends Members after columnist criticizes social workers - BCGEU

It's become the norm, after 16 years of sustained social service cuts, for columnists and pundits to take knee-jerk reactions and blame government workers when a high-profile tragedy occurs.

You may have heard about or read a recent column by the Vancouver Sun's Ian Mulgrew, blaming the courts and social workers for the tragic death of two young girls in Oak Bay.

Your union responded on behalf of our members in MCFD, who do tremendous work to protect BC families, with limited resources and massive workloads. We wanted to share our president Stephanie Smith's response in a Letter to the Editor of the Vancouver Sun, which was printed in today's edition.

We hope you will take a minute to read the president's letter.


January 15, 2018

On January 20, we will march again! - BCGEU

Last January, millions of people worldwide came together to march for human rights. In Vancouver alone, there were over 15,000 people who marched Downtown.

While we made gains in 2017, we also recognize there is still much work to be done.

With the growing momentum of the #MeToo movement, it is more important than ever to amplify the voices of not just women and girls, but of all marginalized groups including refugees, migrants, indigenous peoples and the LGBTQI2S community.

On January 20, 2018, we march on.

We know it takes action to make change. That's why numerous events will be held across the province that will embrace positivity, inclusivity and diversity.

BCGEU President Stephanie Smith, Treasurer Paul Finch, Executive Vice Presidents Kari Michaels and Sussanne Skidmore, along with other BCGEU members will be attending the event in Downtown Vancouver to show that our union will stand up for our values of diversity, tolerance and human rights. All allies are welcome. Please join us!

Together, we will march on!

Learn more about March On Canada here and find out about an event happening near your community here:


March On Canada

Women's March Canada 


January 10, 2018

BCGEU Remembers Mona Moreno - BCGEU

It is with great sadness that we inform our members that Mona Moreno, the founder of the Cedar Root Gallery, passed away on January 1, 2018. 

Mona was a strong Indigenous woman from the Haida Nation. She was a retired, proud member of Public Service Alliance of Canada and a supporter of the labour movement for many years. Mona proudly raised her children with the values of the trade union movement. 

Mona founded the Cedar Root Gallery 25 years ago, which is a landmark business in East Vancouver situated in the Vancouver Friendship Centre. The BCGEU has a long relationship working with Mona and the gallery. Her presence will be missed and the loss will be felt throughout the union.



January 04, 2018

Violence reported at Surrey Pretrial Service Center (SPSC) and North Fraser P...

A serious staff assault occurred at the SPSC on January 2, 2018. The Correctional Officer received injuries to his face and hand, from a brutal unprovoked assault by an inmate. The CO was taken to hospital for treatment, which may result in the loss of his finger. The union is continuing to investigate and will provide an update when more information is available.

Another incident occurred on December 29 at NFPC, when an inmate hung himself from the 3rd tier. When the officer was unlocking the rest of the living unit, the inmate ran to his cell, grabbed a sheet, tied it to the top railing, wrapped the sheet around his neck and threw himself between the safety bars. Thanks to the actions of our COs, the inmate was saved. 

These types of incidents are very traumatic and occur alongside other serious violent incidents on a regular basis. The number of Officers suffering from PTSD is climbing, which is why safety is paramount in our business.

New young Correctional Officers are already leaving Corrections at an alarming pace. Corrections has the highest attrition rate of 14 per cent and we can't retain Officers who are paid $59,000 per year, almost the lowest in Canada. This must be addressed immediately. 

The union takes these issues seriously and will bring these incidents to the appropriate Occupational Health and Safety committees, and through the Joint Accident Investigation process. We will report out to members as soon as information becomes available.

Dean Purdy
Corrections and Sheriffs Component 1 Vice President



January 03, 2018

To ISM employees: We are fighting for your jobs - BCGEU

Dear ISM Employees,

I would like to start this letter by saying "Happy New Year," but, I know that you received news last week that makes this a difficult start to the year.

Like you, we are concerned that ISM was not the successful proponent in securing the RFP with the health authorities. As soon as we heard the news we started making calls to get more information and be able to fight for your jobs and your collective agreement.

We have already reached out to ISM and government to find out what this means for everyone involved. Yesterday, Judy Fox-McGuire - your Component 6 VP - and I met with your staff rep and other union staff to make a plan of action and establish next steps.

In the coming days we will be reaching out to government officials, your employer and NTT Data to ensure that, whatever the outcome, your job and your collective agreement are secure.

In the meantime, I want to make sure you know that the final stage of the bid process will take some months to complete. In the immediate future, nothing will change for you.

You will continue working as you have until more details become available.

We will be notifying you as we get more information and establish next steps.

If you have questions please contact your steward and we will respond to your queries as best we can.

We know this is very stressful and we are here to assist and represent you as this process moves forward.


In Solidarity,

Stephanie Smith, BCGEU President
Judy Fox-McGuire, VP Component 6







December 22, 2017

Professional Reliance Review Will Protect Workers - BCGEU

The BC government has initiated a review of the professional reliance model in the natural resource sector. Many BCGEU members' day-to-day is shaped by this regulatory model.

The professional reliance model effectively lets the "fox guard the henhouse," leading – in some cases - to the mismanagement of our resources and harm to the environment. Combined with deep staff and funding cuts to responsible ministries and agencies, strong public oversight of our lands has been seriously eroded.

This review gives an important opportunity to fix how the provincial government oversees industry's activities on the land base, so that the environment and the public interest are better protected.

BCGEU is able to confirm that the employer has agreed to extend to members a protection outlined in the BCGEU collective agreement under article 32.13 Disclosure of Information. Specifically, no employee shall be disciplined for bringing forth in good faith an allegation of wrongdoing during the review. 

BCGEU encourages members to take part in the in-house review and speak candidly about your experiences with the professional reliance model. Members have been sharing their concerns with this model for years, and this is a great opportunity to proactively and productively seek to fix issues with the model through constructive dialogue with the review panel.

The online portion of the survey is open until January 19th. If you have not done so already you can do it here:

December 20, 2017

BCGEU members land $20 million contract to refit B.C. ferry - BCGEU

BC Government & Service Employees' Union workers employed at Esquimalt Drydock Company will begin work on a B.C. Ferries contract worth $20 million to refit the Northern Sea Wolf. The 17-year-old vessel will accommodate approximately 3,500 passengers and 1,200 vehicles each year on a route between Port Hardy and Bella Coola.

Members at Esquimalt Drydock have extensive experience in ship repair as welders, mechanics, labourers, painters and electricians. Working alongside trades people hired by B.C. Ferries, our members completed a mid-life upgrade of the Queen of Cumberland in 2016 which now services the Southern Gulf Islands.

We congratulate our members on this great success, and thank them for their hard work to make B.C. ferries safer, and more comfortable for the traveling public.

Read more here:


December 19, 2017

Thanking and Recognizing the Public Servants who Keep our Communities Safe ...

This year's fire season is far behind us and while recent winter storms have made many in the province forget about this summer's devastation, many communities are still working to rebuild what was lost in the fire. 

As we see the devastation that fires are currently causing across California and as we look back at the lessons learned over the summer, the BCGEU would like to thank and recognize all of the wildfire fighters, support workers, first responders and community members who stood up throughout the fire season to serve and protect our communities. It is thanks to these workers and community members, that the fires did not cause more loss of life and property. 

B.C. Premier John Horgan is looking to recognize many of these people himself and has created the Above and Beyond Awards to acknowledge acts of selflessness and bravery during the fire season. 

We know that many BCGEU members, from the wildfire crews to the conservation officers to the support workers, deserve this award. That's why I would like to encourage you to nominate people in your worksite and your community who went above and beyond during this summer's fire season. 

You can find more information about the award and nominate someone you know by going to

The deadline to nominate someone in your worksite or community is January 15 of 2018.


In appreciation and solidarity,

Stephanie Smith 

BCGEU President. 


December 15, 2017

BCGEU calls for reinvestment in seniors’ services as Seniors Advocate release...

On Thursday, December 14, 2017, the B.C. Seniors Advocate released the annual Monitoring Seniors' Services report. Their findings present further evidence that the B.C. government has to reverse the policies of austerity implemented under the BC Liberals. B.C.'s seniors need significant reinvestment in community services and affordable housing to undo the resulting increase in poverty now faced by the province's aging population.


The report lists several areas of concern for seniors in B.C., including the worsening affordability crisis, a decrease in home support services and adult programs, and increasing poverty among seniors.


"This report provides more evidence that austerity policies do nothing to improve the lives of British Columbians," said Stephanie Smith, BCGEU President. "To improve the lives of seniors in B.C., and all people of B.C., the government needs to have a central role investing in community health services as well as affordable housing."


The report states that the poverty rate for seniors has increased by 24 per cent since 2005, while services for seniors have been cut substantially during the same period. A shortage of workers and funding for home care has translated into shorter visits by home care workers, negatively impacting care. Since 2015/16 there has also been an 8 per cent decrease in the number of Adult Day Programs, which has put more seniors and their families in vulnerable situations.


The report also looks into the effects that the affordability crisis is having on seniors in B.C. Skyrocketing rents are putting greater strain on seniors who rent and have fixed incomes. Even seniors that own their homes are feeling the effects of the crisis as the cost of homeownership increases. Over the past year there was a 94 per cent increase in the number of new Property Tax Deferrals for homeowners over the age of 55, in part due to the increased tax burden on fixed incomes brought about by increased property values.


Earlier this year, the BCGEU made a series of recommendations to the province on how they can help stabilize housing prices. The proposal includes reforming property taxes, increasing protections for renters and building more affordable housing. These recommendations can go a long way in making life more affordable for B.C.'s seniors and ensuring they have a safe retirement without the fear of a real estate market crash.


Ultimately, increased poverty and a lack of services for seniors are the result of austerity policies, and only by reinvesting in our communities can the new government improve the lives of B.C.'s elderly. The BCGEU is hopeful that the new NDP government will take this report into account during the consultations for the B.C. poverty reduction strategy and that they will continue to increase funds for seniors' services in the upcoming February 2018 budget.


More information: