May 16, 2017

Provincial Government Awards Contract for Asbestos Inventory - BCGEU

The B.C. Government has taken a step forward in its commitment to create an inventory of asbestos in government buildings built before 1990 by awarding the contract to Pinchin West.

There are over 750 government buildings that must be inspected as part of this initiative and it is estimated the inventory will take about 18 months to complete.

Until the inventory has been completed, there will be no renovations or improvements done on government buildings to protect the health and safety of government staff and the public.

Asbestos remains the number one cause of death for workers in the province. Just last year, 44% of work-related deaths were attributed to asbestos-related illness, according to WorkSafeBC. This number is expected to continue to grow over the next decade as workers exposed to asbestos in the past and into today see their health deteriorate.

“It is very encouraging to see the government is moving forward on this file, but there is still a lot of work to be done.” said Stephanie Smith, President of the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union. “Too many workers are still exposed to asbestos on a daily basis, and better regulation and enforcement is still needed.”

Asbestos is still found in building materials, auto parts and other industrial materials, putting workers and consumers at risk of exposure.

The B.C. Government made the commitment to create the asbestos inventory earlier this year following the lead of the Federal Government. The Federal Government is expected to introduce a ban on asbestos by 2018.

Quick Facts:

  • Asbestos was declared a human carcinogen by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer in 1987
  • According to WCB asbestos exposure has led to over 600 accepted worker related deaths between 2005 and 2016
  • According to WCB asbestos related deaths accounted for 75% of all occupational disease deaths and about 44% of all accepted deaths in 2016
  • Breathing of asbestos fibres can lead to health problems that include asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma (a cancer), and pleural thickening (a lung disease)



Local 467/MoveUP

May 15, 2017

Post-election message from Stephanie Smith - BCGEU

While we wait for the final results of recounts and absentee ballots, it’s become clear just how important your vote can be: one party is currently leading Courtenay-Comox by just 9 votes and another is leading in Richmond-Queensborough by only 263 votes.

Regardless of the outcome, we will continue to work with government as we advocate for improved public services and supports across BC – including on those issues that BCGEU members identified as a priority during our WeVote campaign.

I would also like to thank all the BCGEU members who made the choice to run as candidates in this election: Bryce Casavant, Scott Elliott, Sue Moen, Sue Powell and Preet Rai, and to congratulate former BCGEU President George Heyman on his re-election as the MLA for Vancouver-Fairview.

Thanks to all our members who voted, volunteered and otherwise took part in this important election.

Stephanie Smith



Local 467/MoveUP

May 04, 2017

BC Employment Standards Coalition releases report: Why BC Employment Standard...

Today the BC Employment Standards Coalition released a powerful report called Workers’ Stories of Exploitation & Abuse: Why BC Employment Standards Need to Change. The report is based on a series of Workers’ Forums the coalition hosted over the past few months in the Lower Mainland and Victoria to give voice to BC workers who have been treated unfairly. The report brings the inadequacies of the current minimum standards of employment and the current system of enforcement in BC into public view, and makes detailed recommendations about how the Employment Standards Act must change to ensure all workers are guaranteed decent working conditions.

The BC Employment Standards Coalition aims to promote and build public support for strong progressive employment standards legislation and adequately resourced, proactive enforcement that responds to the needs of all workers. The BCGEU is a member of the Coalition and supports its efforts to ensure decent wages, working conditions, respect and dignity for all workers in BC.

May 04, 2017

Day of Mourning honours lives lost on the job - BCGEU

About 25 people gathered at City Hall Friday afternoon to march in honour of those who lost their lives in the workplace.

The annual Day of Mourning recognizes the need for safe work practices and those who died on the job.

Kurt Langdon, an equipment operator with the city of Fort St. John and local chair for the BCGEU, said he was pleased to see the number of people that came out.


April 27, 2017

Les Leyne: B.C. leaders lie low on legal highs ahead - BCGEU

Campaigning provincial politicians have dozens of changes in mind for B.C., but they are scarcely talking about the major adjustment that’s coming, regardless of who wins the election. For all the competing visions being outlined by provincial leaders, the federal government’s move to legalize marijuana is going to be the single biggest revamp on the social and political scene. It was introduced last week and could be in effect by next summer (just in time to help cope with Peter Mansbridge’s retirement). Still, Liberal, NDP and Green campaigns have scarcely taken notice. 


April 26, 2017

BCGEU Equity and Human Rights Conference 2017 - BCGEU

Rise Up & Reboot: BCGEU Equity and Human Rights Conference 2017

The BCGEU 50th Triennial Convention is taking place June 14 -17, 2017.  

As part of convention, the Equity and Human Rights Conference is taking place on June 18 and 19, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency Vancouver Hotel, for members who identify with one or more of four equity groups: workers of colour, workers with disabilities, aboriginal workers and LGBTQI2S workers.

Registered members will be participating in educational workshops, hear inspirational special guest speakers and participate in the election of your new BCGEU Equity and Human Rights Committee, which will serve for the next three years.

Members who identify with one or more of the four equity groups are invited to attend and participate.  

If you wish to attend, you must register by May 12, 2017.

April 25, 2017

Dozens of Aboriginal child welfare workers rally for improved funding for Abo...

BURNABY - About 60 Aboriginal child welfare staff and community members braved the cold and wind on Saturday, April 22 to demand more funding for Aboriginal child and family services. Reporters from both CBC and APTN filmed the colourful event.

Workers and community members of all ages marched along Croydon Drive and stopped outside Minister Stephanie Cadieux’s campaign office to demand improved funding at the Fraser Valley Aboriginal Children and Family Services Society (known by its Sto:lo name, Xyolhemeylh). Specifically, marchers called for smaller caseloads, and more prevention services and cultural programming for children and families.

Participants included B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) President Stephanie Smith, workers from Xyolhemeylh, the agency's bargaining committee, Aboriginal community members, and concerned residents.

“Sadly, every Aboriginal child welfare agency in the province faces these issues,” said Smith. “Our members at Xyolhemeylh want the best for children in care in B.C. These dedicated workers want improved working conditions to help them better advocate for children and families."

Dena Silver, who spoke on behalf of the workers at Xyolhemeylh, pointed out the scope of their work. "Our work impacts not only us and our work environment, but our families and everyone in Sto:lo territory," she said. "We are here today because we’ve had enough reports. We’ve had enough talk. We are here today because now is the time for action. The provincial government must fund Aboriginal child welfare at Xyolhmeylh and at all delegated Aboriginal agencies in BC properly, for the sake of our children and families."

The rally began and ended with a powerful Aboriginal drumming circle by Sto:lo drummers.

Workers at Xyolhemeylh joined the BCGEU last summer due to large caseloads and lack of funding. Current contract proposals include reducing caseloads and providing the resources necessary for culturally appropriate services.

The Representative for Children and Youth’s latest report cites an average of 30 cases per social worker at one time, 50% more than is recommended by the Aboriginal Operational and Practice Standards and Indicators (AOPSI).

For more information or an interview call Bronwen Barnett at 604-473-5424

For high resolution photos of the rally, click here

For the Representatives for Children and Youth's latest report, click here



Local 467/MoveUP

April 13, 2017

Training Day -Labour Code OHS Committee Reps - BCGEU

Did you know you are entitled to annual education leave totaling at least 8 hours? Did you also know your employer is required to support this training without loss of pay or other benefits? The employer must cover the costs of the training and any other reasonable costs to attend the course.  If you are unable to take the training yourself, you have the right to assign your 8 hour annual allotment to another worker representative. This language can be found in the Workers Compensation Act section 135.

Please review your collective agreement as you may be entitled to more than the minimum 8 hours for health and safety education. By taking your annual training, you will increase your knowledge and skills and be better able to represent members at your workplace. You will learn how to prevent injury and illness, what your health & safety rights are and what your employer is required by law to provide for workers.

Starting on April 3rd, 2017, Section 3.27 of the Regulations states that new committee members will be required to take an additional 8 hours of committee orientation training as soon as practicable but no more than six months after being selected. This will apply to both worker and employer representatives on the committee. This training must include but is not limited to the following topics: 

  • Duties and functions of a joint committee
  • Rules of procedure
  • Inspection and investigation requirements
  • The refusal of unsafe work
  • The evaluation of joint committees

For worksites with 10-19 workers, a worker health and safety representative only is required, not a full committee. These representatives will be required to receive 4 hours of instruction and training on the same topics minus the committee evaluation piece.

The BCGEU is always looking for more Occupational Health and Safety representatives to advocate for their worksites. If you have an interest in health and safety, please click here to fill out this survey and your application will be forwarded to your local chairperson for consideration.

BCGEU offers OHS courses in:

OHS (Basic) Training   - this course meets the new regulatory requirements                                             

Mitigation of Workplace Violence

Incident Investigations                                                       

To see the 2017 schedule of courses click here.

Thank you for your attention to this and for further information please call the OHS department at 1-800-663-1674 or 604-291-9611 or email us at

Download PDF of notice here.

April 13, 2017

Quesnel Council Talks Marijuana - BCGEU

Quesnel City Council has begun the process of preparing for the legalization of marijuana.