September 15, 2017

More care workers needed to help B.C. seniors feel at home

Vancouver— Today the Seniors’ Advocate of B.C. published the results of a comprehensive study on the state of care homes in BC. The report shows in no uncertain terms what many families, seniors, and care workers have been raising with government for some time now: basic standards in care homes are not being met.

“I can’t imagine how heartbreaking it must be for everyone involved to know there are people out there suffering. Without adequate resources or staffing to support them, seniors are feeling isolated and trapped in what is supposed to be their own home” said Stephanie Smith, BCGEU President. “When so many seniors are reporting not experiencing adequate levels of basic of personal hygiene, human interaction, and freedom it means there are serious concerns for their quality of life.”

This study reinforces the call by care workers for increased staffing so that basic standards of care can be met. That is the first recommendation made by Seniors’ Advocate Isobel Mackenzie in her report. It is important to acknowledge that simply increasing training cannot solve the core issue. Instead the government must address the staffing ratios between full time staff and residents in care homes which currently does not allow for adequate care to be provided to all. 

B.C. seniors and their families have identified significant lapses in emotional support, and isolation as key areas for improvement. Important quality of life aspects such as decent meals, social activities, and meaningful social interactions are left wanting or simply non-existent. While we know that workers are struggling trying to meet standards and the needs of residents, at the current staffing levels it is not possible to achieve any of the report’s eight recommendations.

“For the report’s eight recommendations to be implemented, the government needs to commit significant resources to bringing in more workers to improve the quality of life for seniors. Last year the government promised to hire 1,500 new health workers as part of a half a billion-dollar investment in seniors’ care,” recalled Smith. “We look forward to meeting with the government to make sure that the significant investment negotiated with Ottawa by the previous government will go into addressing these issues”

BCGEU members working in the sector have been advocating for better standards of care for quite some time through their Seniors Deserve Better Campaign. They have been petitioning government, and raising awareness of this issue.

The BCGEU represents over 73,000 workers in British Columbia, including over 16,000 workers in various health sectors.


Local 467/MoveUP

September 15, 2017

Rally in support of Edgewater Casino workers - BCGEU

Paragon Gaming is relocating Edgewater Casino to a new $600m facility in September of 2017, but instead staffing the new location with their existing union employees, they are planning to outsource the food and beverage department.

This will affect over 100 casino workers represented by Unifor who fought hard for a collective agreement and respect from their employer. The jobs created by the new facility will be outsourced to Las Vegas-based Elizabeth Blau, a non-union restaurant planning and consulting company.

This will eradicate seniority and reduce benefits for the casino's food workers, some of whom have been with the company for 10 years.

You can support the workers of Edgewater Casino by joining them at a rally this evening.


Edgewater Casino Solidarity Rally

Where: 760 Pacific Boulevard, Vancouver

When: Friday, September 15 at 5:00 pm


Hope you can make it out!




Local 467/MoveUP

September 15, 2017

B.C. government strikes a pragmatic balance in budget update – says B.C.’s la...

The B.C. NDP government's first budget update is measured, pragmatic and balances key spending priorities with modest tax increases to high income earners, the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union says in their annual budget analysis.

"The government has made good use of the operating surplus to address urgent needs such as education, poverty reduction, housing and mental health," says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "They've balanced these new commitments with measured tax increases on corporations and high-income earners, who have benefited the most from our economy."

The BCGEU's budget analysis provides an overview of the budget's key measures, including specific choices that directly affect the services our members provide for British Columbians – including the addition of 660 new FTE positions in the public service, cuts to MSP premiums and roughly $1.8 billion in new operational spending over 3 years.

The analysis concludes that Budget 2017 Update is a "conscientious and measured budget" that "positions the government well for the implementation of its core commitments with sustainable spending increases."

Members and the public can read the BCGEU budget analysis here. 

The BCGEU is one of the largest unions in British Columbia, representing over 73,000 members in direct government service, the broader public sector and service sectors across the province.



September 11, 2017

B.C. budget delivers on key priorities for British Columbians - BCGEU

BURNABY – The BC NDP government's first budget update delivers on commitments to re-invest in critical public services this year, the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) said today.

The government will increase public service staffing levels by more than 600 positions, addressing the critical need for additional social workers, park rangers, environmental management staff and compliance and enforcement officers, among others.

"I'm pleased to see the B.C. government acknowledge the value of the important services our members provide to British Columbians," says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "For the first time in years, issues like child protection, community health and home support, poverty reduction, mental health and addictions have seen renewed attention and investment."

"This budget update is based on prudent economic forecasts and balances modest tax increases for the wealthy with targeted public investments to support working British Columbians. It also acknowledges the impacts of long-term staffing cuts across government and in the natural resource sector."

Budget 2017 formalizes budget proposals that will see significant increases to the number of social workers in child protection, as well as a commitment to increase the number of park rangers and capital improvements to increase campsites in BC Parks, a new Abbotsford courthouse and an addition to the Maples Adolescent Treatment Centre.

"I'm pleased that the government recognizes poverty reduction, child care and affordable housing as important parts of a sustainable economy," says Smith. We look forward to working with the government to implement their election commitments to provide these important services for British Columbia families."

The BCGEU is one of the largest unions in British Columbia, representing over 73,000 members in direct government service, the broader public sector and service sectors across the province.



Local 467/MoveUP

September 08, 2017

B.C. throne speech focuses on real needs of British Columbians - BCGEU

BURNABY – The B.C. NDP government's first throne speech is a transitional roadmap that steers the province toward a progressive future, the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) said today. 

"The throne speech strikes a positive tone and commits the government to focus on the real needs of our citizens," says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "The former government spent 16 years balancing the books by eroding public services, and this government has clearly signalled a new approach that reflects a number of priorities the BCGEU has identified in our budget submissions."

Smith is pleased with throne speech commitments to improve services for seniors' care, child care, poverty reduction and making life more affordable for working families and renters. 

"B.C. is one of the richest provinces, with some of the highest rates of poverty and child poverty in Canada," Smith says. "The government's commitment to initiate a poverty reduction plan and take the first steps toward affordable child care is a refreshing and much needed change from the past."

Improving the government's relationship with First Nations and reforming the province's out-dated electoral system are key commitments to establish progressive democratic reform.

"In supporting the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the B.C. government is signaling an historic shift in the relationship between government and First Nations peoples," says Smith. "Electoral reform and campaign finance reform is also long overdue. It's time British Columbia joined other progressive democracies and controlled the influence of big money on government."

The BCGEU is British Columbia's fastest growing union, with over 70,000 members working in direct government service, the broader public sector and service sectors in British Columbia.




September 01, 2017

Celebrating Labour Day 2017

This Labour Day we celebrate not only the great legacy of the labour movement in British Columbia, and across Canada, but today’s movement that continues to grow and evolve as we stand up for all working people.

Representing members across all sectors of the economy, we welcomed 3,000 workers into our union this past year, growing our membership to over 73,000! And in the last 12 months, we’ve accomplished so much together.

We convinced the previous B.C. Liberal government to ensure that skilled and experienced highways maintenance workers were retained in new contracts. We raised the profile of important issues like child care and seniors’ care in the provincial election. We shone a spotlight on the working conditions of workers on the front lines of our health care crises, and pushed government to invest in staffing to overcome staffing concerns. The union has also drawn attention to the safety risk of over-crowding in our prison system and the B.C. government responded by opening a new corrections centre in the Okanagan.

BCGEU members took to their communities and participated in numerous protests, rallies and events. In August, hundreds of us came out to support a massive anti-racism demonstration at Vancouver City Hall in response to the rise of hateful, intolerant rhetoric by far-right groups. And back in January, we joined 15,000 more for the Vancouver Women’s March, calling for civil rights and social justice for all.

Our union’s own campaign work focuses on the needs of workers, while seeking to improve social conditions for all of B.C. In December, the BCGEU launched an initiative to reach out and listen to members and understand what their biggest needs were in addressing the fentanyl crisis at work, and to ensure they had access to those resources.

In the coming weeks, our union will continue the fight for a more equitable B.C. by working on two new initiatives: affordable housing and electoral reform. By securing affordable housing, we can ensure that incomes from family-supporting jobs go even further. And with electoral reform through proportional representation, our provincial elections will more accurately reflect the people of B.C. and we will have more of a say in the opportunities and challenges facing our province. I hope you will join us in working for these changes!

So, this Labour Day we reflect on both the past and the future of the labour movement. Looking back, let’s celebrate achievements like the 8-hour workday, pensions and health and safety standards. But looking forward, with much more work to be done, let’s celebrate the strength, creativity and commitment of our movement to create an even more prosperous and inclusive society.

I want to thank each BCGEU member for the work they do every day to keep our union movement strong and hope that you have a chance to spend time with friends or family on this last long weekend of summer. Special thanks as well to those who will be working on Labour Day, such as the men and women on the front lines of the wildfires and all those working behind the scenes to keep people safe, and to transition back into their communities. In the true spirit of solidarity, we commend your courage and dedication in helping so many British Columbians through this difficult time.

- Stephanie Smith, BCGEU president

August 30, 2017

BCGEU applauds the housing minister’s decision to review caps on rental price...

The BCGEU applauds housing minister Selina Robinson’s announcement that the new NDP government, in an effort to stabilize rental prices, will look into changing the guidelines that cap the amount by which landlords are allowed to hike rental prices year after year.

The rising cost of housing is having a very real impact on working people in B.C. As housing prices have increased faster than wages, working people are seeing the consequences in a significant loss of purchasing power.

“Housing affordability is a major issue for our members.” said BCGEU President Stephanie Smith. “From Victoria to Nelson and Kelowna to Prince George, we hear stories of members struggling to pay for housing in today’s market. Our members will be happy to see the new NDP government take action on affordability.”

Under current rules, landlords are able to increase rental prices for existing tenants by two percent plus inflation once every 12 months. This year, that has resulted in a price increase of up to 4% for many families in B.C. who already pay some of the highest housing prices in the world. The proposed changes would reduce this cap in an effort to stabilize rental prices.

Robinson also said legislation to close the “fixed-term loophole” would be tabled in the fall. Landlords can currently use this loophole to hike prices past the 2% plus inflation cap by forcing tenants into signing new one-year leases.

Stabilizing housing prices and reducing the cost of rent is one of the most effective ways to support working people across the province. The BCGEU looks forward to working with the new government to find solution to the housing crisis that work for all British Columbians.

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


August 30, 2017

Report highlights need to provide greater supports to unpaid caregivers in se...

The B.C. Government & Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) commends the report released today by the Office of the Seniors Advocate, Caregivers in Distress: A Growing Problem. This report highlights a worrying trend of increased distress among unpaid caregivers, and makes recommendations to provide them with greater supports as the needs of B.C.'s aging population become increasingly complex.

The BCGEU supports many of the recommendations in the report such as increasing adult day program access, increasing home support, as well as improving access to and streamlining the Choice in Supports for Independent Living program for those seniors with the ability to direct their own care.

 "This thoughtful and detailed report takes up the task of shining a light on the critical work of unpaid caregivers, and the challenges they are facing," says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "Fortunately, B.C. has a large pool of Community Health Workers (CHWs) available with the skills and training necessary to support these caregivers, and enable the seniors' care sector to function more optimally."

BCGEU members working in long-term care have long spoken out about a range of problems affecting their ability to deliver quality care to seniors and how more support to informal caregivers would improve overall outcomes.

Support at the early stages of caregiving for example is critical and home support workers have the ability to offer assistance and training in personal care, lifts and transfers, and monitoring health status – empowering caregivers with the confidence and skills they need to provide appropriate support. Respite care, also provided by a trained CHW, ensures peace of mind for the caregiver taking a break, enabling them to relieve stress and to strengthen their ability to be a caregiver.

"The report's emphasis on system-wide strategies speaks to the ability of paid and unpaid caregivers to reinforce each other's efforts if adequately supported," says Smith. "We hope the provincial government will take a similarly systemic approach as it plans new programs to benefit seniors and provide them with dignified quality care."

The BCGEU represents over 16,000 workers in various health care sectors.

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


Local 467/MoveUP

August 25, 2017

Getting ready for steward elections – Coming after Labour Day - BCGEU

Informed, active stewards are the backbone of our union, and elections to choose the stewards in our workplaces are coming up.


Becoming a steward is a great way to ensure that everyone at your workplace is treated fairly and that the hard-won improvements in our collective agreements are upheld.


Information packets on this year's steward elections will be mailed out to stewards starting after Labour Day. Included will be procedures on how elections should be conducted as well as informative materials about the importance of getting involved.


If you're a steward and have not received information by September 22, please contact your area office