Today, the WHO declared that COVID-19 has escalated from public health crisis to pandemic. In plain language this means the public health priority has shifted from preventing the spread of the virus to slowing it down so that our healthcare system doesn't get overwhelmed by too many infections happening concurrently. In light of this, the Provincial Executive of the BCGEU unanimously passed the following motion:
The Provincial Executive approves that, effective immediately and until at least May 2nd:
- All non-essential BCGEU gatherings over 10 people will be postponed;
- Where possible, essential gatherings will be conducted remotely; and,
- The Executive Committee will monitor the situation and reassess as new information on the pandemic becomes available.
Our union's senior leadership has been monitoring the emergence and evolution of COVID-19 from regional outbreak to general public health crisis to global pandemic and has been taking appropriate action at every stage to protect the physical and financial health of our staff and members while minimizing disruption to core union business.
This was not an easy decision, but it is absolutely the right decision for our union. Pandemic response is a collective responsibility and we all have a part to play in "flattening the curve". Though I understand this decision will inconvenience some members your provincial executive is unanimous that cancelling non-essential gatherings is the best course of action.
Immediate impacts include postponement of:
- Local Chairs' Assembly scheduled to begin Friday, March 13th at the Metrotown Hilton.
- Women's Health and Safety Course scheduled for Thursday, March 12th at Fraser Valley Area Office.
- Area 10 (Fort St. John) and Area 02 (Nanaimo) steward appreciation events scheduled for April 18th and May 2nd respectively.
Every effort will be made to find alternate ways of "meeting"-for example, conference calls, video conferencing, and telephone town halls-to support core union business and to maintain solidarity between and among members.
Members with questions about whether an upcoming meeting not listed above is essential or non-essential should contact their Component VP or their Area Office. Members with questions about how the COVID-19 pandemic will impact any aspect of their workplace should contact their Area Office. I will update you as the situation evolves.
In the meantime, here are two things can you do:
- Do your part to "flatten the curve". Even if you are in a low-risk group, I urge you to take precautions not just to avoid getting infected with or spreading COVID-19, but also to avoid burdening our healthcare system during the pandemic.
- Listen to experts. The rumours about COVID-19-from transmission to prevention to treatment-are spreading faster than the virus itself. I urge you to rely on the Office of the Provincial Health Officer and the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) for reliable and up-to-date COVID-19 information as it affects British Columbians:
- Office of the Provincial Health Officer – Current Health Topics
- BCCDC – information for the general public – check under the "community resources" section for recommendations on precautions for different types of workplaces.