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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
For more information, contact Chris Bradshaw, 604-369-8411 or 604-291-9611
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.
The BCGEU is proud to celebrate National Aboriginal Day with our members and community allies across the province.
The day's celebrations begin with breakfast at the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre Society and will be followed by the march to Trout Lake for the opening of the afternoon festival.
The BCGEU is a proud sponsor of the morning breakfast and encourages members to join us in volunteering at the event.
When: Wednesday, June 21 at 9am
Where: Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Center
1607 East Hastings
National Aboriginal Day Celebration
When: Wednesday, June 21 at 12:00pm-10:00pm
Where: Trout Lake Park
3360 Victoria Drive
Delegates at the 2017 BCGEU Constitutional Convention have elected our new leadership team. As expected, Stephanie Smith was acclaimed as BCGEU president.
This will be her second term as president after serving one term as treasurer between 2011 and 2014. Smith is the union's first elected woman president.
Paul Finch was also acclaimed for a second term as treasurer.
Elected or re-elected to the executive vice president positions were: Sussanne Skidmore, and newcomers Kari Michaels, Doug Kinna and James Coccola. There was a total of 467 voting delegates.
Twelve candidates put their names forward for the positions of president, treasurer and executive vice president.
In response to a media release the BCGEU issued yesterday – Chronic failure by PHSA to protect staff at Forensic Psychiatric Hospital (FPH) leads to another assault on health care worker – we were disappointed that Angela Draude, provincial executive director with the Forensic Psychiatric Services Commission, said she "hasn't personally heard a request for protective equipment from the BCGEU" in an interview with CKNW News.
"We would like to clarify that the BCGEU raised the issue of body armour in a meeting with the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) and also argued against the decision to remove blocking pads for our members to use when approaching a violent client" says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "The fact that Ms. Draude was apparently not made aware of these issues speaks to the lack of oversight necessary to take protective steps."
Draude also stated that workers receive extensive violence prevention training but unfortunately this training falls far short of what is required for the FPH environment. In fact, the training Draude referred to is provided to all members of the PHSA in their various work environments such as the BC Cancer Agency, BC Children's Hospital and the BC Women's Hospital. Members at FPH were promised additional training suitable to the patients they serve by their employer, however this training has not been provided.
On behalf of BCGEU members at FPH, Smith will again be calling on the PHSA at their open board meeting on June 29th in Vancouver to provide improved onsite safety measures at the hospital, including suitable resources and protections for staff.
To read the media release mentioned above, click here: Chronic failure by PHSA to protect staff at Forensic Psychiatric Hospital (FPH) leads to another assault on health care worker