Click here to find info on COVID-19


February 26, 2020

Coronavirus information for BCGEU members - BCGEU

As you are all likely aware, a new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is causing respiratory infections mostly in Hubei Province, China. As of today there is one confirmed case of the virus in B.C.; however, according to the Ministry of Health and the Provincial Health Officer, the risk to British Columbians is considered extremely low. 

I want you to know that your union has been closely monitoring this situation since news of the virus first started breaking and we are in direct contact with health authorities as they work to ensure the health and safety of working people and their families across B.C. and coordinate containment and prevention plans.

Our OH&S department gathered the following information for BCGEU members. 

What is coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause diseases ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. Some transmit easily from person to person while others do not have that ability. China is conducting further investigations to better understand where the disease came from, how it is transmitted and the severity of illness it causes in humans.

Who is at risk of occupational exposure?

The risk of infection is greatest for persons living with or caring for an individual with the coronavirus. This includes health care aides, dietary workers, housekeepers, activity workers and other heath care workers treating patients with the virus or responding to medical emergencies involving persons infected with the virus.

In fact, any worker in direct contact with the public is at risk, including our members working as corrections officers and even clerical positions. Anyone who comes in close proximity with a possibly infected individual could be at risk for contracting the coronavirus.

What can members do?
Although the risk to British Columbians is considered low, BCGEU is following procedures of the health authorities and the BC Centre for Disease Control and encourages members to take preventative measures to help control possible spread of the virus and protect themselves and others.

The World Health Organization's standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include: regular hand washing, covering your mouth and nose with your arm when coughing and sneezing, avoid touching your eyes, mouth or nose, and thoroughly cooking meat and eggs. 
B.C.'s Ministry of Health recommends that anyone who is concerned they may have been exposed to, or are experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus should contact their primary-care provider, local public health office or call 811.
BCGEU recommends our members do the following:


  1. Wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) if a risk of exposure to 2019-nCoV has been identified for you. You have the right to protect yourself, to ask for adequate PPE from your employer, and to ensure you are fit tested. 

  2. Review and comply with your workplace exposure control plan, policies and procedures. Find out what role you have in these plans and participate in any training and education that your workplace offers.

  3. Know what "leave" policies your workplace has in place for sick leave or to care for your family. Knowing your options in advance will help you make arrangements as needed. If you're uncertain about your leave entitlements, contact your shop steward.

  4. Stay home if you have the flu – or if you think you have the flu.

  5. Contact your BCGEU Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee Representative or site steward if you are concerned about the level of training or preparedness of your worksite.


You may wish to visit the following useful resources for more information about coronavirus:

BC Centre for Disease Control
B.C.'s Ministry of Health 
Public Health Agency of Canada
World Health Organization

We will update you on this issue as relevant information becomes available.

In solidarity,

Stephanie Smith, President


February 26, 2020

The public inquiry into money laundering has begun – your union’s opening st...

Just over fourteen months ago, your union launched the Public Inquiry Now campaign-making the BCGEU one of the first voices demanding that the provincial government call a public inquiry into the links between the housing affordability crisis, the overdose crisis and criminal money laundering in casinos. 

As you know, our campaign succeeded. And Monday I was honoured to take the stand in front of Commissioner Austin Cullen to deliver the BCGEU's opening statement.

Your union is one of only 16 participants granted standing to submit evidence and testimony on the topics covered by the Commission's mandate. More importantly, the BCGEU is the only participant speaking for working people. And we intend to ensure that the lived experience of working people is a central consideration in the Commission's work.

Our opening statement highlighted our support for the actions taken by the current government to fix the interlocking real estate, overdose and money laundering crises that were allowed to escalate over the past two decades. Our statement emphasized your union's support for the casino sector and those who work in it as a vital source of revenue for important public services. And our statement also made our expectations clear:

  • We expect the Commission to identify which decision makers are responsible for getting us to where we are and to hold those individuals accountable.
  • We expect the Commission to make the health, safety and well-being of working people a central consideration of their investigations and recommendations.
  • We expect to be active participants in the commission's work going forward, including helping our members to share their lived experience and perspectives with the Commission.

You can read my full statement here. And you can follow the proceedings on the Commission's website. All public hearings are webcast live and available in an archive at .

Delivering our opening statement is a great milestone in our work with the Commission. We have more work to do. We will continue compiling feedback from our members working in the sectors vulnerable to this crisis. In the coming weeks and months, you will receive more communication from your union about how you can provide information to the Commission. For now, if you have information you think may be relevant to the Commission's mandate, please visit or email and [email protected].

We would not be here without the many BCGEU members who were among the first to raise the alarm on money laundering in the province, and who ensured our union was among the first voices in civil society to call for a public inquiry. I want to thank you for your perseverance and solidarity on these important issues. I assure you that your voice will continue to be central to our work as we move forward.

In solidarity,

Stephanie Smith


February 26, 2020

BCGEU brings the voice of working people to Cullen Commission - BCGEU

BURNABY – The BC Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) was one of the first voices in the province to call for a public inquiry into money laundering in B.C. Monday, the BCGEU's president delivered the union's opening statement to the inquiry it helped create.

"We pushed for this inquiry because the housing affordability crisis, the overdose crisis and criminal money laundering were making our members' communities and workplaces unsafe and unlivable," said Stephanie Smith, BCGEU president. "Our members asked their union to take action, and we did. But getting the Cullen Commission created was just the first step. Our goal now is to make sure that the lived experience of our members – and other working British Columbians – is front and centre in the Commission's work."

The BCGEU is one of only 16 participants granted standing by the Commission. In the union's opening statement, Smith made a series of recommendations for areas the union would like the Commission to investigate and highlighted the union's goals for the Inquiry:

  • Get to the truth of how the housing crisis, the overdose crisis and criminal money laundering are connected and how our province arrived at its current state.
  • Identify those responsible, and hold them accountable for their actions and inactions.
  • Reverse the damage that can be reversed and protect British Columbians from anything like this happening again or happening in different sectors.

"The BCGEU supports everything our current government has done in terms of fact-finding and implementing policies and programs to mitigate the impact of these issues," said Smith. "But the simple fact is, we are where we are because key decision makers and organizations let British Columbians down. We deserve to know how that happened. We deserve to see some accountability. We deserve to feel confident that our province is no longer at risk." 

The BCGEU is one of the largest, most diverse and fastest growing unions in B.C. with more than 80,000 members working in almost every community and economic sector in the province, including the provincial public service, financial services, gaming sector, and frontline community health and social services. 

Read the BCGEU's full statement here.

For more information contact: BCGEU Communications at [email protected]


February 20, 2020

Lateral Transfers to Cannabis, deadline extended to August 1 - BCGEU

Your union has successfully appealed to the employer to extend the deadline for lateral transfers to cannabis, as per the Memorandum of Understanding explained below. The new deadline is July 31, 2020. There will be no further extensions to the process beyond this date.

The Cannabis Implementation Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), as agreed to as part of negotiations for the 18th Main Collective Agreement, allows current regular and regular part-time employees to laterally transfer from the BC Liquor Distribution Branch to the new BC Cannabis Distribution and Retail Stores operations for the purposes of start-up and implementation. Given that implementation of the new cannabis operation has been unexpectedly slow, particularly in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley where the majority of Component 5 members work, there have been fewer opportunities for transfers than originally anticipated. The extended timeline will help ensure members can benefit from the MOU.

Employees wanting to express interest in a lateral transfer per the MOU must complete a cannabis lateral request form and email the form and their resume to [email protected]

In solidarity,

Kusam Doal, Component 5 Vice President



February 18, 2020

BCGEU applauds increased tax fairness and investments in programs, infrastruc...

Victoria, B.C. – The BCGEU is applauding the government's continued and new investments in core programs, infrastructure and improving affordability for British Columbians. But the union representing tens of thousands of workers in direct government and the broader public service is highlighting the critical role of staff in the province's success moving forward.

"After 16 years of devastating cuts under the previous government, and compared to what's happening in other provinces across Canada right now, this budget is good news," said Stephanie Smith, president of the BCGEU. "From continued investments in child care, affordability and poverty reduction; to a new income tax bracket for top earners and new investments in infrastructure; there's a lot to celebrate." 

The BCGEU consulted with members across the province to inform their submission to the Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services. That consultation revealed that workload, recruitment and retention, burnout, and occupational health and safety-all due to under-staffing-remain critical challenges for workers in practically every ministry and sector from community social services and residential care, to social work, corrections and court services.

"Services and programs are important," said Smith. "But it's equally important to have a human resources strategy in place to support the people that deliver those programs and services. Simply put: without our members, none of this works."

The BCGEU is one of the largest and fastest growing unions in B.C. with more than 80,000 members working in almost every community and economic sector in the province.

For more information contact BCGEU Communications: [email protected]


February 14, 2020

Wet’suwet’en protests at worksites – information for members - BCGEU

Over the last week we have seen protests in support of the Wet'suwet'en people take place around the province, across the country, and around the world. These protests continue to escalate around the province.

While we support the rights of protest guaranteed by the Charter, we are not affiliated with these protests. The safety and well-being of our members is of paramount importance.

Here's what you need to know if you encounter a protest at your worksite 

  • Under their collective agreement and the Charter, members have the right not to cross a picket line. 
  • Members have the right to refuse unsafe work. If you have any concerns about this, please contact your steward or area office.
  • Members should not confront protestors or place themselves at any risk.
  • Members who encounter picket lines at their worksite should immediately contact their steward or area office for accurate information about how to proceed.
  • Should picket lines go up, your union will not likely be in a position to determine their legality at that time. However, picket lines should be assumed to be legal unless we are informed otherwise.
  • The BCGEU Provincial Executive has approved picket pay for members who are unable to attend work due to a picket line at their worksite if they are not paid by their employer. 
  • In the event that you are unable to work due to protests at your worksite and are not being paid by your employer for missed hours, please complete this online form to apply for picket pay:

I want to thank all of you who have contacted me, Paul or any other BCGEU member to seek advice. It's critical that members are fully informed when deciding how to act and react during these protests and your union is here to help!

In solidarity,

Stephanie Smith


February 09, 2020

BCGEU statement on Wet’suwet’en events - February 9 - BCGEU

The BCGEU continues to call for a peaceful resolution to the conflict on Wet’suwet’en territory.

As a trade union committed to supporting the full implementation of the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the recommendations of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the BCGEU is deeply troubled by the current and ongoing events on Wet’suwet’en territory including the use of exclusion zones, forceful removal of land defenders, and threats to journalists.

Further escalations threaten to unravel progress towards reconciliation. We urge the RCMP to withdraw and ask for all parties to resume talks to reach a negotiated settlement.

February 05, 2020

Independent advocate re-affirms our union's call to bring seniors’ care back ...

This week B.C.'s independent Office of the Seniors Advocate (OSA) published the first ever provincial review of the $1.4 billion-dollar contracted long-term care sector in British Columbia, A Billion Reasons to Care.

Overall, the OSA confirms what our union has been saying for years: the contracted long-term care sector lacks accountability and transparency in funding and monitoring and fails to meet the needs of seniors and their families.

In the report, the OSA also outlines how the system got to its current state. Prior to 1999 only 23 per cent of beds in long-term care were operated by for-profit companies. The rest were operated by non-profit societies and health authorities. In the two decades that followed, the sector shifted significantly towards the for-profit model due largely to legislation enacted by the BC Liberals. The previous government's legislation led to the deterioration of working conditions for health and social-sector workers by stripping workplace protections and rights and enabling contract-flipping which created a race to the bottom in terms of wages. Fortunately the BC NDP repealed these laws in late 2018, but the damage will take years to undo and leaves us where we are today – with staffing crises and care facilities under health authority administration as we have seen in Comox, Nanaimo and Victoria.

Among the report's specific findings:

  • for-profit operations generate millions in profits but fall short on the number of direct care hours they are funded to deliver, to the tune of 207,000 hours over a two-year period.
  • staff in the for-profit system are underpaid by as much as 28 per cent or $6.63 less per hour than the industry standard. 

The OSA makes five recommendations to address the problems it identifies:

  1. Funding for direct care must be spent on direct care.
  2. Monitoring for compliance with funded care hours must be more accurate.
  3. Contract agencies must clearly define their profit in their reporting.
  4. Standardize reporting for all care homes throughout B.C.
  5. Revenues and expenditures for publicly funded care homes should be available to the public.

Our union commends the OSA for providing this critical and long-overdue insight into the contract long-term care system and supports all five recommendations. However, while these measures would certainly bring improvement to a sector so lacking in regulation, we believe our province must go further to remove the profit motive from seniors' care altogether.

It's time to restore seniors' care in B.C. by putting people before profits and bringing the sector back under government as a public service. Only then will we have a long-term solution that supports our dedicated workforce with good wages and benefits to deliver the standard of care B.C.'s seniors deserve.

The BCGEU represents over 8,000 members in seniors care with 3,000 working in residential care facilities.

Read the report here:


February 04, 2020

Kelowna Area Office Closure – Feb 4 - BCGEU

Due to inclement weather, the Kelowna Area Office has closed for the remainder of Tuesday, February 4. The office plans to reopen, February 5, at 8:30am.

If you are a BCGEU member in the Okanagan (Area 07) and need emergency support at your worksite, please contact your union steward.

Facilities related emergencies at the site can be directed to Ryan Schmid at 778-870-7877.