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. 


October 27, 2017

You're Invited - Powered by Love: A Grandmothers' Movement to End AIDS in Afr...

BCGEU members are invited to join the Stephen Lewis Foundation for this event at Langara College in November:


The Stephen Lewis Foundation is proud to announce the publication of:

Powered by Love: A Grandmothers' Movement to End AIDS in Africa

Thursday, November 9, 2017 Event is from 7-9:00 pm

Langara College (100 West 49th Ave - Room A130)


Click Here to Register for your Free Ticket 

Special Guest Speakers: Two South African Grandmothers, Joanna Henry (Author), Canadian grandmother from the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign.

The book launch in Vancouver will feature a powerful conversation between the author, Joanna Henry, two South African grandmothers, and a Canadian grandmother from the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign! This beautifully-written book, Powered by Love, was released in bookstores on October 10, 2017 and already Named as a National Best-Seller, Non-Fiction (Toronto Star).

Book Signing after the Event!

For more information on where to purchase Powered by Love and the 40 book launches being held across the country, please visit: 

October 26, 2017

Report affirms need for B.C. government to increase supports to children and ...

Room for Improvement – a report released today by the Representative for Children and Youth (RCY) – makes recommendations for additional funding as well as coordination between the Ministry of Education, school districts, and the Ministry of Children and Family Development to help children and youth in care succeed academically. The report also highlights the need for culturally appropriate supports for Indigenous children in care, a service the BC Government Service and Employees' Union (BCGEU) has long advocated for.


"The report makes clear the academic gap between B.C.'s children in care and other students, with even greater disparities among Indigenous children in care," says BCGEU President Stephanie Smith. "Social workers in the BCGEU, who have long advocated for similar changes, stand behind the Representative's positions on these vital issues."


In 2014 and 2015 respectively, the BCGEU released the Choose Children and Closing the Circle reports which called for major investments in the system of children and youth in care. These investments included increased resources, staffing, educational support, and cultural training in all aspects of care for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous children and youth.


The Room for Improvement report also highlights ongoing issues around understaffing and the need to address high staff turnover and workloads. "If adequate staffing levels were reached, it would be possible for social workers to work more closely with schools to ensure that children in care have what they need to succeed," says Judy Fox-McGuire, BCGEU vice president for Social Information and Health – Component 6.


In light of demographic patterns revealed in recent census data, the need for culturally relevant services for Aboriginal children and youth in care could not be more pressing. The BCGEU calls on provincial and federal governments to come to agreement and clarify responsibilities around ensuring that some of the most vulnerable members of our society have the supports they need.


Click here to download the BCGEU reports:

· Choose Children (2014)

· Closing the Circle (2015)



For more information please contact Bronwen Barnett, BCGEU Communications (604) 719-4713.

October 23, 2017

Executive Vice President Tour - Revised - BCGEU


Hello Everyone!


Executive Vice President, James Coccola will be visiting worksites in Prince Rupert, Terrace, Kitimat, Hazelton and Smithers starting at 8:00 am on October 22 as outlined in the schedule below (all times are approximate):


Prince Rupert, Sunday October 22nd, 2017:

1. 8:00 - 10:00 am Crest Motor Hotel

2. 11:15 - 11:35 am BC Liquor Store


Old Hazelton, Monday October 23rd, 2017:

1. 10:00 – 10:45 am MCFD/Service BC/Forestry


Smithers, Monday October 23rd, 2017:

1. 1:00 – 1:45 pm Bulkley Lodge

2. 3:00 – 3:45 pm Northwest Community College Smithers Campus

3. 4:00 – 4:30 pm BC Liquor Store


Kitimat, Tuesday October 24, 2017

1. 8:30 -9:30 am Kitimat Mental Health Office !


Terrace, Tuesday October 24th, 2017:

1. 10:30 – 11:15 am Health on Kalum St

2. 1:00 – 1:45 pm Community Corrections

3. 2:00 – 2:45 pm Social Development

4. 3:00 - 3:45 pm Sheriffs

5. 4:00 – 4:45 pm McConnell Estates


Terrace, Wednesday October 25th, 2017:

1. 8:30 – 9:15 am Service BC/Ministry of Labour

2. 9:30 – 10:15 am CLBC NEW!!

3. 10:30 – 11:15 am MCFD Sub Regional Office

4. 1:15 – 2:00 pm ISM NEW!!

5. 3:00 – 3:45 pm Northwest Community College

6. 4:00 – 4:45 pm Northern Health – Community Health on Kalum Street




Download as pdf