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October 21, 2020

New union office will reflect union values - BCGEU

New union office will reflect union values

We have some big news! Our union is building a new Lower Mainland Area Office (LMAO) that will provide BCGEU members and staff with the space and amenities they need, but it will also include much needed affordable housing and childcare spaces as well. We are excited to share this news with members and this bulletin will be the first of many updates as the project moves forward.

Here's what you need to know right now:

  • The land for the project has been acquired under the oversight of a special capital projects committee led by the Treasurer, and with the unanimous support of your elected leaders on the provincial executive. 
  • The land purchase was funded by the significant investment returns the BCGEU has earned since we began divesting our defence fund from fossil fuels back in 2014. The financing for the project is from investment returns, and not your dues.
  • The site of the new LMAO is in Burnaby-a location chosen because the city's progressive approach to zoning made our goal of providing affordable housing in the new LMAO possible. 
  • Every step of this project will be done in a way that is consistent with our values as a union committed to democracy and social justice. Our new LMAO will be a sustainable, accessible and inclusive building that provides the affordable housing and childcare options that working people deserve. 
  • The next step is to secure approval from the City of Burnaby for our plans. Our application has been submitted and we will be reaching out to members who live in Burnaby to support our application when it comes to a public hearing. 
  • At this point we don't have a date for the start of construction but while we work on those details the buildings that currently stand on the future site of our new LMAO will be part of the City of Burnaby's Mural Program. We will update you on the details of this aspect of the project as we have them.

Building for human need, not for profit, is something Canadian and U.S. unions did to support working people back in the 1920s – 1970s. It's a model our union has pursued in our long-standing commitment to build rather than lease the offices used by our members. And we're proud to be reinventing this model using the economic principles of our Affordable BC plan.

Our new building will support BCGEU members and staff for years to come and will truly be an anchor for the progressive community and all working people in Burnaby. We are excited about this project and look forward to sharing more details as we watch our vision come to life.

If you have any questions, please email

In solidarity,

Stephanie Smith, BCGEU President
Paul Finch, BCGEU Treasurer


October 16, 2020

BCGEU concerned about proposed redesign of the Municipal Pension Plan

You're receiving this as a BCGEU member of the Municipal Pension Plan.

As you may be aware, the Municipal Pension Plan (MPP) has announced potential changes to the plan and is currently seeking stakeholder feedback on a proposed redesign, by October 23. 

Despite being the fourth largest union in the MPP and representing thousands of pension-contributing members, the BCGEU is not one of the "Plan Partner" unions and does not have a seat on the plan's Board of Trustees (who are ultimately responsible for redesign decisions). As a result, we were not formally included in the proposed redesign and did not get to vote directly or independently on it. 
We have been asking the board and partners for years to give the BCGEU representation that is commensurate with the relative size of our membership in the MPP. Nevertheless, our union's pension experts have repeatedly communicated BCGEU members' needs in any future plan redesign.

It is important for you to know that our union supports some aspects of the proposed redesign, in particular the move to what is called the "flat rate of accrual." This is something we've been advocating for members for years, and it means that most new members joining the plan will retire with a superior pension. Our union also supports the notion of a Health Care Trust for retirees.

However, the BCGEU overall opposes the proposal because of three particular concessions that fail BCGEU members:

  • When the Public Service Pension Plan (PSPP) was redesigned, BCGEU members received 12 years of 0.3 per cent accrual below the YMPE (Year Maximum Pensionable Earnings). In comparison, the MPP's proposed redesign offers no retroactive increase. We think it should, and we believe it would offset the loss of the Bridge benefit for members retiring in the next five to 10 years.
  • We have been demanding for years that the MPP Board rebalance the contribution rates, and they are proposing to wait until 2022 to do so, instead of implementing these much needed changes for fairness in 2021.
  • The Plan Partners agreed to a 0.5 per cent of payroll break in contributions for the employer only. This is unacceptable for us, and it is a concession we refused in the Public Service Pension Plan redesign.

As an MPP member, if you are upset with the proposed redesign, or have any questions about how it will impact your pension personally, we encourage you to use this online form by October 23 to communicate your concerns or questions to the MPP partners and Board of Trustees, and to demand a seat on the Board for the BCGEU. The online form takes only a minute to complete, and you'll find more of our research and reasoning on the site.

In solidarity,

Paul Finch, BCGEU Treasurer
Andrea Duncan, Vice President, Component 3 (Community Social Services)
Mahen Ramdharry, Vice President, Component 4 (Health Services)
Cindy Battersby, Vice President, Component 7 (Education, Scientific, Technical & Administrative)
Scott De Long, Vice President, Component 8 (Community Health Services)
Dave MacDonald, Vice President, Component 17 (General Services)


October 09, 2020

Union elections postponed - BCGEU

We hope you are safe and well as we move into the cooler months.

COVID-19 has brought adjustments to the way our union operates. For instance, provincial health regulations caused us to have to postpone our June 2020 triennial convention until June 2021.

This is to let you know we're also postponing our steward elections until 2021. Local elections are postponed until early 2022. 

In the meantime, elections will still be held to fill vacancies. The postponements for the general elections are happening because they're required to occur after the convention, as per our constitution.

We hold local elections every three years. Every position on the executive is open to nominations. Positions include chair, 1st vice-chair, 2nd vice-chair, 3rd vice-chair, treasurer, secretary, members at large, and young worker representative.

We encourage members to become active in their BCGEU locals, and by doing so, play a greater role in our union's governance.

We'll have more information about the 2021 steward and local elections, and the triennial convention, in the weeks to come. 




October 02, 2020

Temporary employment opportunity at LifeLabs - BCGEU

To BCGEU members impacted by workplace closure or disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the union would like to let you know about a temporary employment opportunity to work with fellow BCGEU members at LifeLabs, a Canadian laboratory services provider.


LifeLabs is currently hiring temporary Packaging Clerk positions in Surrey, BC, to support the increase in COVID-19 testing across the province. No medical background is required to fill these casual 3 to 4 week-long posts. The pay is $19.10 per hour and the hours will vary.


The position will be responsible for receiving, counting, packaging and organizing samples for transportation. Full personal protective equipment (PPE) and training, where required, will be provided.


This is an urgent staffing need so if you are interested, please apply now at:


When asked in the application who referred you or how you found out about the job, please be sure to indicate 'BCGEU'. Should you have any questions regarding the Packaging Clerk positions, please contact LifeLabs directly.


To see all opportunities at LifeLabs go to: 


September 29, 2020

Poll finds majority of British Columbians support phasing out for-profit long...


September 29, 2020

Poll finds majority of British Columbians support phasing out for-profit long-term care

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the deficiencies of for-profit seniors' care and this issue will be top of mind for voters deciding who to support in the provincial election

(Burnaby, B.C.) - A new Research Co. poll has found that a significant majority of British Columbians are concerned about for-profit corporations in the province's long-term care sector and would prefer not-for-profit operators to be awarded new contracts for delivery of these services. The survey of a representative provincial sample was conducted on behalf of the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU), a lead union in long-term care representing more than 5,000 members in the sector.

"The pandemic shone a light on what BCGEU members and others on the front lines of the long-term care sector have been saying since the early 2000s when the rules were changed to allow increased privatization: for-profit long-term care is a bad deal for workers and for seniors," said BCGEU president Stephanie Smith.

The polls results include the following:

  • 73 per cent of British Columbians with opinions on the issue would prefer to see for-profit operators reduced, and 71 per cent would prefer not-for-profit operators to be in charge of new long-term care bed contracts;
  • 79 per cent said the issue of long-term care will be important (32% very important, 47% moderately important) in determining their vote on October 24th; and
  • 65 per cent of respondents confirmed they have been following issues related to long-term care.

"This poll shows that British Columbians not only understand what's going on in the long-term care sector, they know what needs to be done about it," said Smith. "The bottom line is British Columbians agree with what our union has been saying for years: we need to shift away from the for-profit delivery of seniors' care. Now that we have an election coming up, I'm challenging all political parties to be clear about their plan to tackle the ongoing crisis in long-term care."
A report from B.C.'s seniors advocate tabled in February, just before the pandemic took hold of the province, revealed that for-profit seniors' care operators failed to deliver 207,000 care hours which they were funded to deliver. The Research Co. poll addressed that report's findings and found that 91 per cent of British Columbians believe the provincial government should monitor whether long-term care homes are delivering the care hours they are funded to provide and 86 per cent believe that those who fail to do so should face penalties.
"As we've seen during the pandemic, for-profit seniors' care operators pad their bottom line by suppressing wages, allowing working conditions to deteriorate and cutting corners on care," Smith continued. "While companies increase their profit margins, frontline staff and the seniors they care for pay the price. It's been going on too long and it's unacceptable."
"British Columbians who have a personal connection to long-term care are more likely to call for a reduction on the participation of the for-profit sector in the future," says Mario Canseco, President of Research Co. "Significantly fewer residents of the province believe expanding the role of for-profit corporations in long-term care is the right course of action."
In April 2020, the BCGEU launched a campaign calling on the provincial government to end for-profit long-term care in B.C. The campaign has garnered nearly 15,000 signatures to date. The union also supports national calls for a federal framework for the public delivery of seniors' care.
Results are based on an online study conducted from September 22 to September 24, 2020, among 800 adults in British Columbia. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region in British Columbia. The margin of error-which measures sample variability-is +/- 3.5 percentage points, nineteen times out of twenty.

Link to Factum
Link to Data Tables
Link to BCGEU's petition to end for-profit seniors' care in B.C.
For more information contact BCGEU Communications:


September 10, 2020

Release of Patterson WCB review validates injured workers’ experiences - BCGEU

We want to share how pleased our union and our members are to see the B.C. government's release of the long-awaited review of our workers' compensation system by retired labour lawyer Janet Patterson

The report, released August 26, is not only a victory on the path towards a more worker-centered system but a validation of the lived experience of injured workers in B.C. – including many current and former BCGEU members who courageously shared their experiences as part of the review's public consultation process.

The report offers over 100 recommendations to government in plain language and great detail, including some that our union made in our own comprehensive, written submission. Recommendations of significance to our members include:

  • Steps towards improved communication by the WCB
  • Protecting workers from retaliation for filing a WCB claim
  • A new role for WCB's clinical services that emphasizes collaborating with treating physicians
  • Improving the return-to-work process and support for vocational rehabilitation
  • Creating a Fair Practices office
  • Increasing worker representation on the WCB's Board of Directors 
  • Measures to address gender and identity-based discrimination in the workers' compensation system

Our union is strongly encouraging government to implement all of Ms. Patterson's recommendations, and as soon as possible. 

Your help is needed to amplify our call. Please let your MLA know that you, too, want to see the Patterson report's recommendations implemented immediately, to rebuild your confidence in our workers' compensation system.

Finally, and importantly, I want to express my deepest gratitude for the efforts of injured workers and their families who courageously delivered powerful, personal public testimonies, many of which are excerpted in the report. Because of your contributions, this report is so impactful.

Your shared, lived experience makes it clear that balance must be restored between the interests of workers and employers, now!

In solidarity,

Stephanie Smith, President
Doug Kinna, Executive Vice President



September 04, 2020

A Labour Day Message from Stephanie Smith - BCGEU

The future cannot be predicted, but it can be created. 

So far, 2020 has been a year of upheaval and uncertainty and that has many of us questioning what the future will look like for ourselves, our families, and our society. It's also been a year in which working people have shown time and again that we have the power to create a society that is stronger, safer, and more prosperous through solidarity, resilience, and shared values like dignity and respect; equality and fairness; social justice and opportunity for all.

That power and those values are the core of what Labour Day is, and has always been, about: the belief shared by union activists that we have the ability and the obligation to build a better future not just for ourselves but for all working people. As J.S. Woodsworth famously said "what we desire for ourselves, we wish for all."

COVID has not broken us but it has revealed plenty that is broken about how our society works and who it works for. The fact is that the BCGEU and our 80,000+ members across the province were working on many of these issues long before the pandemic hit: from addressing the deep fissures in the long term care system that put the lives of seniors, elders, and workers at risk; to advocating for safe supply and other evidence-based approaches to the overdose crisis; to working for affordable, accessible housing options for all British Columbians; to fighting for a universal, publicly funded child care system; to advancing reconciliation and an end to racism and discrimination in families, workplaces, and communities. I'm proud of that work and of every BCGEU member who has driven our union to get involved and stay involved in these critical issues.

The first Monday in September will look a little different this year as union activists plan pandemic-safe ways to come together but Labour Day will still be Labour Day: an opportunity for union activists to celebrate our history, reaffirm our values, and dream with our eyes open about the future we want to create, battles yet to be fought, values yet to be realized, workers yet to be organized. As we move forward through whatever comes next for our society, the BCGEU and our partners throughout the labour and social justice communities will be front and centre continuing the work to fix what's broken and create a better future. And this Labour Day I'm full of optimism for what we can achieve together.

So, what can you do?





September 02, 2020

BCGEU: provincial government must release pandemic pay now

September 2, 2020 
BCGEU: provincial government must release pandemic pay now 

Burnaby, B.C. – The BCGEU is calling on the provincial government to either immediately distribute the stipend promised under the B.C. COVID-19 Temporary Pandemic Pay (TPP) program or provide a firm date when workers will get the long-awaited funds.
"Thousands of our members and other workers across the province have been waiting for this stipend to be paid out for months and these delays are frustrating and unacceptable," says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "Essential workers are counting on this money to pay their bills, but the TPP was also meant to be recognition of the important contribution they've made to get our province through this public health crisis. Delays send the wrong message."

B.C.'s TPP program was announced in mid-May, more than three months ago. The 16-week period the stipend is meant to apply to ended in early July, almost two months ago. While workers in every province have experienced some delay in getting this much-needed money, workers in B.C. appear to be the only ones still waiting. 

There's no end in sight to the delay. But the delays are not the BCGEU's only issue with the program.

"The BCGEU pushed hard to get our provincial government to make B.C.'s TPP program the most inclusive in Canada," said Smith. "And we're happy that B.C.'s program covers more essential workers than in any other province. But the bottom line for us has always been that the program should cover all frontline essential workers-not just some of them. We aren't finished working on this."

Pandemic pay has been a key focus of the BCGEU's work to support its members through the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. BCGEU members have been instrumental in continuing to deliver the essential services British Columbians count on and the BCGEU will continue fighting to get all workers the recognition and support they deserve. 

Some of the workers who are currently not eligible for the TPP program include workers in B.C.'s public liquor stores, child care workers, and the provincial enforcement officers enacting the government's new enforcement measures announced last week. The BCGEU continues to call for all essential frontline workers to be included in the program: see our release here.

The BCGEU is one of the largest, most diverse and fastest growing unions in B.C. with more than 80,000 members working in almost every community and economic sector in the province.

Media availability:
The BCGEU will make available a spokesperson from the union to comment on this matter, as well as a union member affected directly by the pandemic pay delay.

For more information contact: BCGEU Communications, at