February 21, 2018

Government must take bolder action on speculation tax - BCGEU

February 21, 2018

BURNABY – The BC Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) is pleased to see the B.C. NDP government's newly released 30-point housing plan which proposes significant steps towards addressing the province's housing affordability crisis. This plan includes measures, many of which the BCGEU has been calling for, like introducing a progressive property transfer tax surcharge, closing loopholes that promote tax evasion and building affordable rental, non-profit, co-op and owner-purchase housing units. However, the "speculation tax" as proposed in this plan, while reflective of BCGEU recommendations, will not go far enough to curb the full extent of speculation in the market. It also misses a major revenue opportunity by narrowly applying the tax to landowners not paying income taxes in B.C. – leaving out developers and land speculators.

Last November the BCGEU released its report Building an Affordable B.C., co-authored by CUPE 1767 President Jared Melvin and Vice President Harpinder Sandhu, which recommends implementing a Land Value Capture (LVC) tax as the centrepiece of a recalibrated tax system. This tax would apply to developers and those who actively speculate on land values, who for years have been making runaway profits in an environment that is largely untaxed and unregulated. Land Value Capture is a moderate intervention that reduces the incentive for speculation, while generating revenue for government investment in transit and infrastructure in the area being developed.

"The value of B.C.'s real estate market has risen to $1.8 trillion – one of our largest sectors. Yet without proper taxation on the value of land, government is leaving money on the table that could go towards funding the services and infrastructure British Columbians need," says Paul Finch, BCGEU Treasurer.

The BCGEU continues to build support for the plan put forward in Building an Affordable B.C. and will continue to push government to adopt a widely-applied Land Value Capture tax as the most effective tool to stabilize speculation, enhance revenue and resources for public services, and to make life more affordable for British Columbians.

The provincial government's 30-point plan is a promising first step towards addressing the housing crisis. However, it would be significantly strengthened by the adoption of the LVC tax, a measure the union hopes to see included in next year's budget.

The BCGEU will host a public meeting on the housing affordability crisis on Monday, February 26th at the Vancouver Public Library at 6:30pm (Peter Kaye Room). A five-person panel including Vancouver City Councillor Adriane Carr, Tesicca Truong from Generation Squeeze, CUPE 1767 member Harpinder Sandhu, BCGEU Treasurer Paul Finch, and BCGEU Executive Vice President Kari Michaels will engage the public on their stories and ideas for solutions. Recommendations from the report Building an Affordable B.C. will also be presented.

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


February 20, 2018

BC Budget provides path to affordability and quality public services - BCGEU

Fixing 16 years of neglect in public services, childcare and housing will take time, but BC Budget 2018 signals a bold path forward on these important public issues, says the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union.

"We have consistently called upon government for greater investment to restore quality public services," said BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "Today's budget begins that renewal process and makes significant commitments to childcare and housing affordability, which has positive benefits for our members and for all British Columbians."

"We support the initiatives to curb real estate speculation and enhance the supply of affordable housing for British Columbians. The first steps toward a universal, accessible childcare system are also highly welcome. Together, these significant programs and strategies will help working British Columbians and the province's less advantaged to actively participate in and benefit from B.C.'s economy."

"The commitment to fix public services that people count on is extremely important for our members and the public. Today's investments in new staffing for court services, sheriffs, legal aid, seniors care, income assistance, environmental and natural resource management, and programs for women and children affected by violence, demonstrates this public commitment."

"We also need to make a serious effort to address recruitment and retention issues in the public sector, in part by increasing wages and benefits-issues we look forward to addressing in upcoming negotiations. In the meantime, government initiatives that make housing and childcare affordable for working families also make it easier to attract and keep quality workers in the public sector." 

"Our environment and natural resource sector continues to need significant new investment to reverse the decades-long erosion of services. The commitment to hire 20 new conservation officer positions is positive news that will ensure higher levels of compliance and enforcement with a positive impact on our environment and the economy."

"We know it will take time to restore proper service levels to British Columbians. We will support the government as they continue to do the right thing to make British Columbia a more affordable, equitable and healthy society for everyone, not just the one percent."



February 19, 2018

Vancity workers at Downtown Vancouver branch join BCGEU - BCGEU

Workers at the Vancouver City Savings Credit Union Downtown Vancouver Branch (#10) have voted by majority to join the BC Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU). 

The 26 financial services workers at this branch join over 700 of their Vancity colleagues who benefit from access to fair wages and improved working conditions under their collective agreement.

"We are thrilled to welcome workers at the Vancity Downtown Branch to the union," says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith.

"As more Vancity workers join their colleagues in the BCGEU they give strength to the union and ensure they have a voice at the bargaining table and in the workplace." 

The BCGEU is one of the largest and most diverse unions in British Columbia with over 73,000 members.



February 19, 2018

Caring Professionals should be exempt from mobility pricing - BCGEU

The Mobility Pricing Independent Commission recently published its initial report exploring decongestion charging as part of a 10-year plan for transportation development in the Metro Vancouver region. They have proposed two main policy approaches for consideration: tolling congestion points and charging drivers for each kilometre they drive.

Congestion point pricing charges drivers when they pass certain points or locations, such as a bridge, tunnel or high-traffic area. Distance-based charging means drivers would be charged for each kilometre they drive, and the amount would depend on where they go and at what time.

The BC Government & Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) welcomes efforts to address the effects of traffic congestion as well as the development of improved infrastructure. However, this should not be done at the expense of working people in the Caring Professionals sector whose incomes and services rely on free access to our roads.

Thousands of BCGEU members, particularly those working in community health or community social services, must have a car to perform their jobs and many drive 50+ kilometres a day on busy corridors to visit their clients. Some members are required to transport clients as part of community inclusion work, or to attend doctor's appointments. Imposing a tax on their mobility would not only create individual financial burden but could also negatively impact service delivery at agencies that aren't funded to pay the costs.

In addition, many of these workers are already facing significant issues when it comes to affordability in the region, including precarious working conditions, lower wages, low mileage rates for the use of their vehicles, and long commutes due to the housing crisis.

The BCGEU urges the Commission to propose a mobility pricing exemption for those in community health and community social services, as well as all workers who spend much of their workday on the roads, including delivery drivers and cab drivers.

In the coming weeks, the Commission will be conducting public consultations ahead of their final report due out in April. The union will encourage its members to visit between February 22 and March 17 to provide comment on this important issue.


February 15, 2018

2018 BCGEU Scholarship Program - BCGEU

Delegates to our 2017 Constitutional Convention voted to increase our annual scholarship program to $60,000. Awards for full-time students are $2,000 and, for part-time students, $1,000. Our scholarship program is funded by the dues of our 73,000 members.

Applicants must be:

  • A BCGEU member, or related to a current retired, or deceased BCGEU member or staff; and
  • A student or prospective post-secondary or higher learning student enrolled, registered or planning to attend an eligible educational institution in 2018.

Eligible relatives include spouses, parents, and children or grandchildren (including foster, adopted and stepchildren and grandchildren). Eligible educational institutions must be designated by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). Previous BCGEU scholarship recipients are not eligible to apply. 

In addition to personal information and details of your education plan, you will be asked to submit a short essay of 450 – 500 words. This year's essay question is:

British Columbia has a long history of protest and activism that has shaped our province. What lessons, if any, can today's trade unions learn from this history? How important is protest and activism to making change possible? Use a historical or contemporary example of social movements, protest and activism that you find inspiring to consider these questions.

We encourage you to interview an activist, conduct original research or base your essay on personal experience.

The deadline for submitting your application has been extended to SUNDAY, MAY 6, 2018 at midnight.

Find the scholarship application here

You or your children may also be eligible for one of these five scholarships worth $1,500 awarded by our national union, NUPGE:

Brian Fudge Memorial Scholarship

Scholarship for Indigenous Students

Scholarship for Students of Colour

Terry Fox Memorial Scholarship

Tommy Douglas Scholarship

For information on these scholarships, including eligibility criteria, visit The submission deadline for these scholarships is June 6, 2018.

Download Scholarship Brochure
Download Scholarship Poster


February 13, 2018

BC throne speech ‘turns the corner on 16 years of neglect’ - BCGEU

The BC NDP government Speech from the Throne isn't perfect, but it starts to repair the damage done to public services by the previous government, says the BC Government and Service Employees' Union.

"I've witnessed many throne speeches, but this is the first time I've seen a real commitment to progressive policies that will make people's lives better," says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "If the government delivers on their commitments, we will have turned the corner on 16 years of neglect for the public services that British Columbians rely on.

"The central themes of affordability, housing and childcare resonate with our members, who both provide and rely on these services. British Columbia has an extremely high cost of living, and government initiatives to help families access quality, affordable services is welcome news.

"The commitment to fix public services that people count on is extremely important for our members and the public. Under the previous government, public services were dramatically reduced and left to erode for the last 16 years. Our environment, natural resource and social service sectors urgently need significant new investment to reverse the decades-long decline in service levels.

"It's a long list, but areas that we believe need immediate attention include: child protection and community health services; corrections, sheriffs and legal aid; natural resource management; environmental protection; post secondary funding and employment standards.

"We know that the damage done by the former BC Liberal government can't be reversed overnight. It will take time to restore proper service levels to British Columbians. We will be here to support government as they do the right thing and urge them to do more to make a more affordable, equitable and healthy society for everyone, not just the one percent."



February 09, 2018

Hard Rock Casino workers vote in favour of strike - BCGEU

Unionized workers at Coquitlam's Hard Rock Casino have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action.

The more than 400 casino employees, who joined the BC Government and Service Employees' Union in 2016, have been trying to negotiate a first collective agreement since January 2017.


Read more....


February 08, 2018

Minimum Wage Announcement: Low Wage Workers Need $15 Now, Not in 2021 - BCGEU

Today's announcement by the provincial government that B.C.'s minimum wage will reach $15.20 per hour on June 1, 2021 is disappointing, both to the BCGEU and to the 20 per cent of B.C.'s workers who make less than $15 per hour. We think that the provincial government should take action to reduce poverty and inequality in our province by increasing the minimum wage to $15 immediately, as we stated in our submission to the Fair Wages Commission.

British Columbia has a strong economy, but also Canada's highest cost of living, and extreme income inequality. Alberta and Ontario, with lower costs of living, will reach the $15 minimum wage on October 1, 2018 and January 1, 2019. BC's workers will have to wait an additional twenty-nine months – until June 2021 – to break the $15 barrier. It is unfair for the provincial government to allow hundreds of thousands of British Columbians to work full-time, full-year and remain below the poverty line. British Columbians deserve better.

We remain hopeful that the next report from the Fair Wages Commission, expected next month, will end a discriminatory system that allows for specific groups of workers, including farm workers and liquor servers, to earn less than the minimum wage. These individuals are highly vulnerable, and we expect the government to extend today's schedule of wage increases to all workers. 


Along with this much-needed increase in the minimum wage, it is important that the provincial government puts the resources in place to make sure employers are following the schedule of wage increases, and that workers are not cheated by employers in other ways. This means that more staff and funding are needed for the Employment Standards Branch to do proactive monitoring and enforcement of the implementation of the new minimum wage.


February 08, 2018

BCGEU Welcomes Review of Labour Code - BCGEU

The BCGEU welcomes the provincial government's announcement earlier this week that they have appointed a committee of special advisers to review the provincial labour code. This review is a good first step in the process of restoring fairness to both the labour code and the BC Labour Relations Board.

The code review panel will be consulting with stakeholders around B.C. before reporting back to Labour Minister Harry Bains this summer. The BCGEU will be participating in this process, as we recognize that the labour code is a significant piece of legislation that informs both how B.C.'s workers organize to join unions, and how unionized workers and their employers interact.

The labour code has not been reviewed nor significantly amended in 15 years, and it is time that it is updated. We hope to see the labour code amended to ensure balance and fairness for workers in B.C.