NEWS

July 05, 2017

More violence at Forensic Psychiatric Hospital as BCGEU calls on PHSA board o...

Another staff member at Forensic Psychiatric Hospital (FPH) in Coquitlam, operated by the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA), has been assaulted after being asked to escort a patient exhibiting aggressive behaviour to a seclusion room. Staff members are not provided with protective gear at FPH.

 "The ongoing violence at FPH is due to an imbalance created by bringing dangerous individuals, remanded to the facility by the courts, into a hospital setting where staff are not equipped with protective gear," says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "For too long, the therapeutic interests of patients have been pursued at the expense of staff safety and we have called on the PHSA to bring this into balance."

 Last Thursday, President Smith delivered a presentation at the PHSA Open Board of Directors Meeting to ensure the board is well-informed of the dangerous conditions at the facility, and to call on the PHSA to take both long-term and immediate actions to improve onsite safety.

 "While we are troubled to hear about another assault, we were encouraged by the response at Thursday's meeting as the board chair assured us we all share the same goal – to keep workers safe in their workplace," says Smith. "We await PHSA's response and hope they take the opportunity to work with the union to turn things around at this facility, and quickly."

 FPH has been issued 54 Workers' Compensation Board (WCB) safety orders and 102 WCB inspection reports have been filed in the last five years, mostly resulting from the employer's failure to protect workers from violence. A $171,000 fine was issued by the WCB in the fall of 2016 for extremely dangerous conditions at the facility, yet the violence continues.

 Over 270 BCGEU members work at Forensic Psychiatric Hospital, including 130 health care workers, 15 forensic security officers, 25 dietary staff, 7 social workers and 27 administrative staff.

 Click here to see the letter sent to the PHSA President and CEO following our presentation at the Open Board of Directors Meeting Thursday June 29th

 For more information contact: Bronwen Barnett, BCGEU Communications | e: bronwen.barnett@bcgeu.ca | c: 604-719-4713


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July 02, 2017

BCGEU Celebrates Canada Day 150 Plus - BCGEU

On Saturday July 1, 2017 Canada celebrated its 150th birthday. While many took part in celebrations across the country, others chose this important date to make us aware of some of the more disturbing aspects of our history. 

The Indigenous peoples of this land governed themselves for thousands of years before colonization by Europeans just 300 years ago.      

What happened 150 years ago? 

In 1867 the British Parliament passed the British North America Act, creating the Dominion of Canada.  Included in Canada's new constitution was the Indian Act 1867 which lead to the creation of racist policies and programs, including residential schools.

Much of this history is outlined in the report released by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future (2016) and the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (1996), the latter having been mostly forgotten over the past two decades since its release.

For Indigenous peoples, this 150th birthday represents 150 years of failed legislation and policy in Canada that tried to "civilize" and assimilate Indians.  One of the main objectives was to "take the Indian out of the child" by forcibly removing them from their homes, and relocating them to residential schools. The horrors of residential schools were replaced by foster care, and adoption of Indigenous children, often by Americans and Europeans. The federal government catastrophically failed to meet their responsibility to these children, causing intergenerational trauma to our First Nations. 

What can we do to help change the future?

The BCGEU has been working towards change.  As recently as our last constitutional convention in June, the union recommitted to strengthening relationships with our Indigenous members and all Indigenous peoples in their fight for self-determination and self-governance, and to advocate for government to honour the inherent rights of Indigenous peoples.

Resolutions from our convention, coupled with the vision of our Indigenous members who helped create BCGEU's Aboriginal Roundtable report (2014), as well as Indigenous representatives from the newly elected equity and human rights committee, are the first steps in our journey toward reconciliation.  

Let's celebrate that we are fortunate to live in the country we call home, but let us also honour the true history of Canada and its Indigenous peoples.  We must all make steps, even in small ways, towards reconciling with the Indigenous peoples to create a nation we can all be proud of celebrating.

June 29, 2017

BCGEU congratulates the NDP as they prepare to form government - BCGEU

The BCGEU congratulates John Horgan and the BC NDP as we move into a new era of leadership in our province.

“We look forward to working with the new government,” says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. “We are optimistic that the alliance between the BC NDP and BC Greens will move us towards a British Columbia that lifts up all people, provides a transparent and accountable government, and protects our environment for future generations.”

For years BCGEU members have been calling on the government to take decisive action on climate change, to implement a poverty reduction strategy, to strengthen the rights of workers and their safety on the job. Members have written, phoned, and talked to their elected representatives about improving home care for seniors, about investing in early childhood education and childcare, calling for a $15 per hour minimum wage, and investment in quality public transit. It is through their hard work and efforts that many of these issues became central to the political discourse during the election, and will now be reflected in government.

Our union looks forward to the opportunity of meeting with MLAs of all parties once the new government is in place to discuss the timely implementation of these policies.

The BCGEU represents 73,000 members in the public and private sectors, and in almost every economic sector in the province with approximately one-third of its membership from the public service.

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June 28, 2017

Stephanie Smith: Post-Convention Address - BCGEU

Stephanie Smith, BCGEU President, reflects on your union's recent convention, and talks about the work we're going to do together to make our union stronger.

 

June 26, 2017

As provinces seek the 'right' price for pot, how it's sold could matter - BCGEU

Provincial finance ministers are getting a clear message from the federal government this week: Keep taxes on legal marijuana sales consistently low across Canada, or risk undercutting the government's goal of ending black market cannabis sales.

But provincial governments may find that enticing consumers to buy legal marijuana over illicit weed will take more than just tweaking tax rates. The question of how provinces allow marijuana to be sold could also play an important role in pricing.

 

Read more...

June 26, 2017

Vancouver's grocery store liquor policy not restrictive enough, addictions ex...

The City of Vancouver has made changes to its liquor policy - including allowing for a store-in-store model for grocery store liquor sales - but one addictions expert says the changes make alcohol-use too permissive and put vulnerable people at risk.

The city chose the store-in-store model - where grocers can create a separated liquor area with its own cashier - precisely because it was more restrictive than simply allowing liquor to be stocked on shelves.

 

Read more...

June 26, 2017

Liquor policy review: Vancouver council allows grocery stores to sell booze -...

 

As part of a suite of changes to its liquor policy, Vancouver city council is allowing grocery stores to sell wine, beer and liquor.

The sale of booze inside grocery stores will be done through the "store-within-a-store" model that will require a separate checkout.

 

Read more... 

June 22, 2017

BC Liberal throne speech rings hollow to British Columbia voters - BCGEU

By releasing major elements of their final throne speech before presenting it in the legislature, the B.C. Liberal government has signalled a cynical about-face on major policy issues that rings hollow to B.C. voters, says the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union.

"For the past 16 years, the B.C. Liberal government has ignored the needs of B.C.'s most vulnerable citizens and working families, while enriching the lives of their wealthy sponsors" says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "Now, on the brink of losing power in a minority government, they tell us they've suddenly seen the light? 

"British Columbians see this speech for what it is – a cynical public relations exercise by a political party trying desperately to cling to power at any cost. This apparent last-minute conversion on key political issues puts the lie to their entire record as government.

"The B.C. Liberal government has stubbornly refused to raise welfare rates for the past decade," says Smith. "They have repeatedly refused to regulate the influence of big money in politics. And they have consistently refused to provide options for B.C. families searching for quality affordable child care. The BCGEU has repeatedly flagged these issues in our budget submissions to government, only to be ignored.

"This government's policies, for over a decade and a half, have consistently worsened income equality and affordability for the majority of B.C. citizens. And now they are telling us that they will fix everything they've broken?

"Sixty per cent of British Columbians voted for change. The time has come for the B.C. Liberal party to recognize that they do not have the confidence of the House and let the NDP/Green majority assume the role of government."

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For more information, contact Chris Bradshaw, 604-369-8411 or 604-291-9611

 

June 21, 2017

BCGEU Celebrates National Aboriginal Day - BCGEU

This year is a special year for the BCGEU as we celebrate National Aboriginal Day.

We're so incredibly proud of the great strides that BCGEU members – both new and experienced – have taken over the past year to strengthen relationships with our allies in Aboriginal communities around the province.

In just the last twelve months, we've welcomed employees at Fraser Valley Aboriginal Child and Family Services (Xyolhemeylh) in to our union; we have continued our support for the inquiry into the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls and applied to participate in the inquiry; we have instituted the acknowledgement of traditional territories at all local meetings and events; we have strengthened partnerships with a number of Aboriginal organizations and initiatives; and members have invited each other to participate in Truth and Reconciliation workshops at our union halls.

And last weekend, the BCGEU equity and human rights committee renewed its commitment to issues relating to Indigenous peoples with the election of new Indigenous representatives who will guide the work of union over the next three years. 

This year we are celebrating National Aboriginal Day as a proud sponsor of the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Center's pancake breakfast serving 500 people in our community and the afternoon festival at Trout Lake (John Hendry Park) in Vancouver. We invite all members to join us in Vancouver or at any of the many events happening around B.C. – click here for a list.

We would also like to extend our heartfelt appreciation to artist Simone Diamond of the Quw'utsun (Cowichan) Tribes, the designer of the artwork on our new Aboriginal solidarity poster – a version of which appears below.

We look forward to another year of building stronger relationships and power for our friends and allies with our Indigenous members and communities.