Click here to find info on COVID-19


April 18, 2024

Major investors with $1.7 trillion AUM demand action from Canada’s largest co...

April 18, 2024

Major investors with $1.7 trillion AUM demand action from Canada's largest companies on shareholder rights  

(Burnaby, British Columbia) An international coalition of institutional investors and service providers, representing over $1.7 trillion CAD in assets under management and advisory, have signed on to an investor statement calling on Canada's largest companies to act immediately to safeguard shareholder rights at virtual shareholder meetings.

The group, which includes California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS), Desjardins Global Asset Management, the Church of England Pension Board and Connor, Clark and Lunn Investment Management, are asking S&P/TSX 60 companies to publicly disclose how they will ensure shareholders' statutory and common law rights are being upheld. The B.C. General Employees' Union (BCGEU) led the initiative. 

The rapid increase in virtual-only meetings, from zero S&P/TSX 60 issuers in 2019 to 57% in 2023, underscores a fundamental shift in how companies and investors are able to interact. The investor letter proposes modest and actionable guidelines to align virtual meetings with the participative standard of in-person events. These include real-time mechanisms for shareholder participation, transparent Q&A sessions, and the elimination of cumbersome registration processes that disenfranchise beneficial shareholders. 

Paul Finch, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer of the BCGEU, articulated the coalition's stance, stating: 

"The essence of shareholder democracy lies in the robust exchange of perspectives and the accountable exercise of shareholder rights. Some issuers are using virtual meetings to push practices that erode these fundamental principles. Technology can absolutely enhance shareholder democracy. As stewards of significant assets, it is our collective duty to ensure that technology serves as an enhancer, not a barrier, to shareholder democracy."

Oumayma Ouzane, Senior Advisor of Responsible Investment at Desjardins says: 

"Voting activities and shareholder engagement are both crucial to DGAM's responsible investment approach. With the rise of virtual meetings, we must safeguard shareholders' acquired rights to active participation in AGMs. Transparency and inclusivity in these virtual settings are essential if we are not to lose the value associated with these annual meetings."

Kevin Thomas, CEO of Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE) says: 

"Like any shiny new technology, we can't let the potential of online meetings obscure the original purpose of shareholder meetings. Canadian law is very clear: these meetings are an opportunity for shareholders not only to communicate with the company, but also with each other. Whatever technology we use should facilitate that, not undermine it."

In 2024, the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) released updated guidance on virtual shareholder meetings advocating for shareholder meetings to be held in both online and in-person formats, rather than in-person only. The Canadian Coalition for Good Governance (CCGG) also published a Virtual Shareholder Meeting Policy recommending strongly against virtual-only meetings as they may be used to limit shareholder rights.

Proxy advisory firm Glass Lewis has further provided considerations and voting recommendations related to virtual meeting conduct and may recommend voting against the chair of the governance committee if the company holds a virtual-only meeting and does not provide adequate disclosure regarding shareholder participation rights and opportunities.

Shareholder proposals calling for in-person meetings have received majority votes at Metro (54%), CIBC (53%) and Air Canada (82%), and Bank of Montreal (50.7%), with votes to come at Bombardier (April 25), Cascades (May 11), Loblaw (May 2), Power Corp. (May 9), Quebecor (May 9), and TransatAT (April 23). 

The investor signatories include major pension funds, asset managers, and socially responsible investment firms who are steadfast in their commitment to fostering a corporate environment where shareholder engagement continues to serve as the cornerstone of corporate governance.



For more information or to arrange media interviews with signatories, contact Emma Pullman, Head of Shareholder Engagement, B.C. General Employees' Union (BCGEU) [email protected] 

Read the investor statement and list of signatories. Investors can still add their name to the statement by contacting [email protected]

About BCGEU: The B.C. General Employees' Union (BCGEU) represents over 85,000 workers in almost every community and economic sector in British Columbia. As a responsible investor, the union engages public issuers on ESG issues and has succeeded in achieving strong commitments in the realms of human rights, Indigenous rights, workers' rights, and governance. 


April 08, 2024

Petition to improve the safety and quality of BC’s highways - BC General Empl...


Will you sign this petition calling on the provincial government to make changes to B.C.'s highways maintenance program that will improve the quality and safety of our highways? 

For decades, highways workers maintained the roads as direct provincial government employees. Then in 1987, sweeping changes were made to restructure government and privatize many public services – this included a fast-track program to transfer highway maintenance to private contractors. This, the government of the day said, would reduce costs and improve maintenance. 

By 1994, the BCGEU had concluded that the privatization program actually cost more than would have been the case had the ministry continued its program unchanged. In a report sent to government at the time, our union pointed out that these cost differences could have been better understood had the ministry retained at least two service areas for comparison (our province is divided into 28 service areas). 

The Public Access Protection Society, a non-profit organization that advocates for access to and maintenance of public roads and trails, is calling on the provincial government to implement this strategy by bringing at least two highways service areas back under direct government service. The petition points out that by doing this we can: 

  1. Ensure the delivery of high-quality, cost-effective highway maintenance with safety for commuters and workers as a top priority.
  2. Maintain the knowledge and experience of highways maintenance within the ministry.
  3. Make sure the ministry is in a state of readiness to step in and deliver highway maintenance services directly in areas where service delivery has failed. 

The petition has already been signed by 1,500 British Columbians. In the interest of the enhanced safety and accountability of our highway maintenance program, please add your name today:


April 04, 2024

Day of Mourning is April 28 - BC General Employees' Union (BCGEU)

Every year, on April 28, BCGEU members across the province come together to honour and remember co-workers and family members who were injured, made sick or killed because of something that happened at work. 

It is critical that we all remember those workers and reiterate our commitment to fight for the living to prevent further tragedies. Here are a few ways you can acknowledge Day of Mourning on April 28: 

  • Attend a ceremony in your community – see the list here.
  • Download and post at your worksite the BCGEU's Day of Mourning poster. To receive a hard copy of the poster, please submit a request here by Tuesday, April 9, 2024, 5 p.m.
  • Make an online dedication to those who have died or been injured at work.
  • Observe a moment of silence.
    • Share the following statement in your email signature or on social media:
      On April 28, we honour the lives of those that have been injured or lost their lives to workplace injury or disease in B.C. Visit for more information.
  • Call on your employer to:
    • work with health and safety committees and representatives to ensure safe and healthy working conditions, whatever work is taking place; and
    • ensure all workers have access to free personal protective equipment, training and paid sick days so they can stay home when they are ill and not risk exposing co-workers and their community.
  • Call on our provincial government to:
    • Ensure every worker has seamless access to universal, permanent, and adequate paid sick leave, so no one has to choose between going to work sick and getting a paycheque. Being able to stay home when you are sick is fundamental to reducing workplace exposures and illness;
    • Enforce workplace health and safety provisions, including the right to refuse unsafe work; and
    • Deliver on the promise that workplace health and safety is recognized as a fundamental right at work at the International Labour Organization (ILO) this year.

Download PDF of Day of Mourning Poster here


April 03, 2024

Joint Statement: Canada must suspend arms trade with Israel (NUPGE) - BC Gene...

In the wake of recent civilian deaths, today the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) -- our national union -- joined with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW), the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), and the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) to call on the Canadian government to suspend the trade of arms and military equipment with Israel. 

Click here to read their statement


April 02, 2024

2024 BCGEU Scholarship Winners - BC General Employees' Union (BCGEU)

Congratulations to the 2024 BCGEU Scholarship Winners.


The BCGEU is pleased to support our 2024 scholarship recipients in their continuing education.

2024 BCGEU Scholarship Winners

Scholarship of $2000 for full-time students and $1000 for part-time students were awarded to members and their families across the province with a total of $90,000 awarded in the total.

Winners will be mailed a letter with instructions on how to claim their scholarship.

Members can also apply for scholarships from our National union, NUPGE. Find more details here.


March 08, 2024

International Women’s Day 2024 Statement - BC General Employees' Union (BCGEU)

Friday, March 8th is International Women's Day, and this year's theme is Inspire Inclusion.

Recognizing and celebrating the unique perspectives and contributions of women, two-spirit, trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming people plays a pivotal role in achieving true gender equality, demanding the dismantling of barriers, and the challenging of stereotypes.
It's essential that we acknowledge the diverse experiences and challenges faced by women and gender diverse people, especially those from marginalized communities. Fostering environments that champion inclusivity for all is a priority for our union.
In fact, the goals of "Inspire Inclusion" are at the very heart of the work of our union's Women and Gender Rights Committee. In October 2023 we held our first conference in Fort St. John: Intersectionality – What does it mean? Nearly 100 members and activists – including trans and gender diverse members -- explored the critical intersection of gender rights and the labour movement. 
Women and gender-diverse people, particularly those who belong to marginalized communities, have faced unique challenges within the labour movement. To explore those challenged, our conference took an intersectional approach, including workshops on Domestic Violence at Work, Intersectionality: From an Indigenous Lens, and Disability Rights and Justice at Work among others. 
In addition to the conference, our union has stood strong in support of trans and gender diverse rights. Dozens of members stood proudly in solidarity with local 2SLGBTQIA+ union members and community groups to confront anti-trans hate events and actions at a number of locations around the province.
Our Women and Gender Rights Committee also passed recommendations to our union's Provincial Executive to deliver domestic violence at work workshops to members, component executives and cross-component committees and recommended that all components designate male identified members to receive Be More than a Bystander training. 
After hearing from the staff at the WISH Drop In Centre to better understand the extreme stigma and challenges facing sex workers, the committee passed a recommendation to support the federal and provincial changes necessary to decriminalize sex work and make sex work safer for the women and gender-diverse people involved. 
While we are proud of this work and these are steps in the right direction, we have so much further to go. Our union must continue to ensure that every person's voice is heard, that their accomplishments are celebrated, and their rights are safeguarded, regardless of gender.
"Inspire Inclusion" serves as a reminder that achieving gender equality is not only about addressing visible inequalities but also about recognizing and addressing the subtler, ingrained biases that persist in our societies. As we celebrate this year's International Women's Day, let us recommit ourselves to creating a world where every person is empowered, included, and valued.
In the meantime, please check out the events and resources listed below, including the CLC's informative new website about gender justice. Together we can forge women's and gender equality, raise awareness about discrimination, take action to drive gender parity and #InspireInclusion.
Happy International Women's Day!

In solidarity,

Stephanie Smith, President

Download list of 2024 International Women's Day Events here


March 07, 2024

Investor Engagement Yields Major Changes to Indigenous Rights at Canada’s Lar...

For immediate release:

Investor Engagement Yields Major Changes to Indigenous Rights at Canada’s Largest Bank
RBC makes changes following shareholder proposals from BCGEU and UBCIC

March, 2024

(xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil Waututh) | Vancouver, B.C.) In response to two successive shareholder resolutions filed by the B.C. General Employees’ Union (BCGEU), with support from the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC), the Royal Bank of Canada (TSX:RY) has launched a new component to its Environmental and Social Risk process, which asks questions about impacts on Indigenous lands and communities (I-ESR).

In addition, the bank has amended its human rights statement to invoke internationally recognized standards for Indigenous rights. Furthermore, RBC agreed to include a review of its new I-ESR policies in its racial equity audit to be completed in 2025.

“We are pleased to report that after over a year of negotiations, RBC has now charted a more meaningful course towards upholding Indigenous rights,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. “After last year’s AGM debacle and ignoring the voices of proper title holders like the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary chiefs, it is refreshing to see a change to RBC’s approach”.

A 2023 shareholder resolution, filed by BCGEU, a long-term RBC investor, with support from UBCIC, asked RBC to amend its human rights statement to invoke the free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) of Indigenous people as outlined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (the UN Declaration) and to inform itself as to whether its clients had obtained FPIC. This proposal earned strong shareholder support. A 2024 proposal asked the bank to conduct a review of the effectiveness of the bank’s policies and practices in respecting Indigenous Peoples’ rights in its existing and proposed general corporate and project financing. This second proposal was withdrawn in light of RBC’s commitments as described in this press release.

Following negotiations conducted between RBC and the investors:

  • RBC amended its human rights statement to invoke the UN Declaration and the standard of FPIC;
  • RBC introduced a new, enhanced component to its environmental and social risk process that asks RBC clients about the impact of their activities on Indigenous lands and communities, which can trigger enhanced due diligence. It applies to capital markets transactions above a relatively low threshold. 
  • RBC agreed to undergo an independent third-party review of its policies related to Indigenous rights to be conducted by a qualified independent auditor as part of the bank’s Racial Equity Audit, which is to be completed by the end of 2025. The audit will specifically include a review of the company’s reliance on the Equator Principles for project finance activities.

“We are pleased to see RBC commit to enhanced risk management practices and to new reconciliation efforts in line with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s call to action #92,” said BCGEU Treasurer Paul Finch. “As a long-term investor, we understand that protecting and enhancing investment is not at odds with Indigenous rights. In fact, quite the opposite.” 

Issues of concern that remain for BCGEU and UBCIC include RBC’s continued reliance on the Equator Principles, as well as concerns with whether the new I-ESR policies adequately ascertain harms to Indigenous lands and culture.

“It is too soon to say if RBC’s new policies rise to the challenge, and we will monitor their progress closely,” said Finch.

“RBC is not off the hook by any means. Policies are one thing but what matters is action. We will closely monitor RBC’s progress. Respecting FPIC is not an optional standard that only applies when consent is granted. It must also include the right to say ‘no’ and have that respected,” added Grand Chief Stewart Phillip. 

RBC’s April 2023 annual meeting of shareholders was marred with accusations of racism and segregation of Wet'suwet'en and Black frontline communities who had traveled to the meeting to speak with management.

RBC is the third Canadian chartered bank to agree to terms and commitments related to a shareholder proposal on FPIC filed by BCGEU and UBCIC, following commitments from both TD Bank and the Bank of Montreal in 2023. 

BCGEU and UBCIC will attend the 2024 AGM to be held in Etobicoke to address shareholders directly about this engagement.


For media inquiries please contact:

Emma Pullman, Head of Shareholder Engagement, B.C. General Employees’ Union (BCGEU) [email protected] 

About BCGEU: The B.C. General Employees' Union represents over 85,000 workers in almost every community and economic sector in British Columbia. Under BCGEU's capital stewardship strategy, the union has submitted shareholder proposals at some of Canada's largest companies and has succeeded in achieving strong commitments on ESG issues.

About UBCIC: The Union of BC Indian Chiefs is a political advocacy organization that represents over 120 First Nations in British Columbia. The UBCIC works to uphold Indigenous sovereignty, promote self-determination, and advance Indigenous peoples' rights.



January 18, 2024

Area 04 Education Opportunity - BC General Employees' Union (BCGEU)

The Area 04 Cross Component Committee wishes you a very Happy and Prosperous 2024.

We appreciate that we all have busy lives, but we are asking for your input by filling out this survey

One of the purposes of the committee is to provide education and events for BCGEU members in our area.

We have a number of events planned for this year, including bowling, learn to fish and a summer carnival to name a few, so please keep an eye out for notices to sign up and participate.

The committee is also looking at hosting a couple of education days. In the past, these days have included courses on budgeting, pensions, and other personal interest courses. We also had an area set up for members to bring their bicycles for a tune-up and inspection.

This year, we want your help in deciding what courses to hold. We are conducting a survey get your input. Please take the time to fill it out. All members who fill out the survey, will be eligible for a $50 LDB gift card which will be awarded by a random draw.


In solidarity,

Erica Cardarelli, Cross Component Committee Chair
Kevin Hagglund, Staff Representative 

Download FYI CCC Education Opportunities Survey.pdf


January 08, 2024

BCGEU calls for Vacancy Control, not more unaffordable rent hikes  - BC Gener...


January 8, 2024
BCGEU calls for Vacancy Control, not more unaffordable rent hikes 
(Burnaby, B.C.)


While some B.C. renters are bracing themselves for another 3.5-per-cent rent-hike in 2024, those looking for a new home will be paying much more to stay in their communities, says the B.C. General Employees' Union (BCGEU), calling again for vacancy control measures. 

According to the CMHC's January 2023 Rental Market Report, the asking price for vacant units in Vancouver, on average, exceed in-place rents by 43%, making housing even more expensive for those who are moving or have been displaced, and need a place to live. The BCGEU says this disturbing discrepancy is both a symptom of weak rental policy and an over-reliance on the private market, which has widened the divide between those who own and those who rent, making it harder and harder for working people to have stable housing.

"Vacancy Control would limit rent increases between tenants, which is a major cause of unfair evictions and displacement," says the BCGEU Vice-President Kari Michaels. "In many cases landlords make homes so unlivable that occupants have no choice but to leave, all so the landlord can convert the same $900-a-month suite into a $2,400-a-month one." 

Michaels adds that the results of these unchecked rent increases negatively impact everyone: "Whether you are the person unfairly displaced, or you're a prospective renter coming in behind them - possibly a student leaving home for the first time, a new Canadian moving to B.C., a growing family seeking more space, or a worker relocating to a neighborhood that's closer to a job - everyone loses because the number and diversity of affordable homes dwindles. A 3.5% increase on in-place rents is daunting enough for workers, especially in the face of our inflationary crisis, but for your typical workers and families, market-rate housing is often completely out-of-reach." 

Vacancy control would stop rents from rising as steeply as they have over the last decade by extending rent caps to the unit, not just existing tenants. "It's a common-sense protection that we need right now to stem the loss of affordable market rentals," says Michaels. "It's no different than how we need better protections against demovictions under the new transit-oriented development law to stop unfair displacement; both policies should be treated as emergency measures." 

The BCGEU is also adamant that workers and their neighbours need more support to build and sustain a truly equitable and affordable housing landscape, which is why it's advocating for a 4-pronged approach, combining a Land Value Capture Tax (LVCT) and expanded inclusionary zoning with robust public housing, in addition to Vacancy Control. LVCT would deter speculation, eventually cooling the housing market, and provide government with the funds it needs to build and manage quality, affordable public housing. Meanwhile, the proposed inclusionary zoning policy would require 50% of the units in all new developments get an affordable-housing designation, where rent is locked at 30% of the tenants' income. 

"Ultimately, we are striving for an environment where the corporate landlords and developers cannot own, flip and sell more people in B.C. out of their homes," says Michaels. "Our proposal unchains housing from the restrictive and volatile market we currently see, so that we can eventually decrease rents, increase the stock of quality affordable housing and ensure that people living and working here have quality homes, without having to sacrifice food, heat, internet, or winter boots for their kids just to keep a roof over their head." 



For more information, please contact: 

Celia Shea, BCGEU Communications Officer – [email protected] 


The BCGEU represents over 85,000 workers from across the province, passionately fighting for a more affordable B.C. Together, they're pushing back against the cost-of-living crisis by winning better wages and breaking down barriers to important services for marginalized communities. In response to the escalating housing problem, BCGEU also launched the Affordable B.C. Campaign, where members and allies are uniting to advance safe, affordable housing for all workers and their neighbours.