February 19, 2018

Caring Professionals should be exempt from mobility pricing - BCGEU

The Mobility Pricing Independent Commission recently published its initial report exploring decongestion charging as part of a 10-year plan for transportation development in the Metro Vancouver region. They have proposed two main policy approaches for consideration: tolling congestion points and charging drivers for each kilometre they drive.

Congestion point pricing charges drivers when they pass certain points or locations, such as a bridge, tunnel or high-traffic area. Distance-based charging means drivers would be charged for each kilometre they drive, and the amount would depend on where they go and at what time.

The BC Government & Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) welcomes efforts to address the effects of traffic congestion as well as the development of improved infrastructure. However, this should not be done at the expense of working people in the Caring Professionals sector whose incomes and services rely on free access to our roads.

Thousands of BCGEU members, particularly those working in community health or community social services, must have a car to perform their jobs and many drive 50+ kilometres a day on busy corridors to visit their clients. Some members are required to transport clients as part of community inclusion work, or to attend doctor's appointments. Imposing a tax on their mobility would not only create individual financial burden but could also negatively impact service delivery at agencies that aren't funded to pay the costs.

In addition, many of these workers are already facing significant issues when it comes to affordability in the region, including precarious working conditions, lower wages, low mileage rates for the use of their vehicles, and long commutes due to the housing crisis.

The BCGEU urges the Commission to propose a mobility pricing exemption for those in community health and community social services, as well as all workers who spend much of their workday on the roads, including delivery drivers and cab drivers.

In the coming weeks, the Commission will be conducting public consultations ahead of their final report due out in April. The union will encourage its members to visit between February 22 and March 17 to provide comment on this important issue.


February 15, 2018

2018 BCGEU Scholarship Program - BCGEU

Delegates to our 2017 Constitutional Convention voted to increase our annual scholarship program to $60,000. Awards for full-time students are $2,000 and, for part-time students, $1,000. Our scholarship program is funded by the dues of our 73,000 members.

Applicants must be:

  • A BCGEU member, or related to a current retired, or deceased BCGEU member or staff; and
  • A student or prospective post-secondary or higher learning student enrolled, registered or planning to attend an eligible educational institution in 2018.

Eligible relatives include spouses, parents, and children or grandchildren (including foster, adopted and stepchildren and grandchildren). Eligible educational institutions must be designated by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). Previous BCGEU scholarship recipients are not eligible to apply. 

In addition to personal information and details of your education plan, you will be asked to submit a short essay of 450 – 500 words. This year's essay question is:

British Columbia has a long history of protest and activism that has shaped our province. What lessons, if any, can today's trade unions learn from this history? How important is protest and activism to making change possible? Use a historical or contemporary example of social movements, protest and activism that you find inspiring to consider these questions.

We encourage you to interview an activist, conduct original research or base your essay on personal experience.

The deadline for submitting your application has been extended to SUNDAY, MAY 6, 2018 at midnight.

Find the scholarship application here

You or your children may also be eligible for one of these five scholarships worth $1,500 awarded by our national union, NUPGE:

Brian Fudge Memorial Scholarship

Scholarship for Indigenous Students

Scholarship for Students of Colour

Terry Fox Memorial Scholarship

Tommy Douglas Scholarship

For information on these scholarships, including eligibility criteria, visit The submission deadline for these scholarships is June 6, 2018.

Download Scholarship Brochure
Download Scholarship Poster


February 13, 2018

BC throne speech ‘turns the corner on 16 years of neglect’ - BCGEU

The BC NDP government Speech from the Throne isn't perfect, but it starts to repair the damage done to public services by the previous government, says the BC Government and Service Employees' Union.

"I've witnessed many throne speeches, but this is the first time I've seen a real commitment to progressive policies that will make people's lives better," says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "If the government delivers on their commitments, we will have turned the corner on 16 years of neglect for the public services that British Columbians rely on.

"The central themes of affordability, housing and childcare resonate with our members, who both provide and rely on these services. British Columbia has an extremely high cost of living, and government initiatives to help families access quality, affordable services is welcome news.

"The commitment to fix public services that people count on is extremely important for our members and the public. Under the previous government, public services were dramatically reduced and left to erode for the last 16 years. Our environment, natural resource and social service sectors urgently need significant new investment to reverse the decades-long decline in service levels.

"It's a long list, but areas that we believe need immediate attention include: child protection and community health services; corrections, sheriffs and legal aid; natural resource management; environmental protection; post secondary funding and employment standards.

"We know that the damage done by the former BC Liberal government can't be reversed overnight. It will take time to restore proper service levels to British Columbians. We will be here to support government as they do the right thing and urge them to do more to make a more affordable, equitable and healthy society for everyone, not just the one percent."



February 09, 2018

Hard Rock Casino workers vote in favour of strike - BCGEU

Unionized workers at Coquitlam's Hard Rock Casino have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action.

The more than 400 casino employees, who joined the BC Government and Service Employees' Union in 2016, have been trying to negotiate a first collective agreement since January 2017.


Read more....


February 08, 2018

Minimum Wage Announcement: Low Wage Workers Need $15 Now, Not in 2021 - BCGEU

Today's announcement by the provincial government that B.C.'s minimum wage will reach $15.20 per hour on June 1, 2021 is disappointing, both to the BCGEU and to the 20 per cent of B.C.'s workers who make less than $15 per hour. We think that the provincial government should take action to reduce poverty and inequality in our province by increasing the minimum wage to $15 immediately, as we stated in our submission to the Fair Wages Commission.

British Columbia has a strong economy, but also Canada's highest cost of living, and extreme income inequality. Alberta and Ontario, with lower costs of living, will reach the $15 minimum wage on October 1, 2018 and January 1, 2019. BC's workers will have to wait an additional twenty-nine months – until June 2021 – to break the $15 barrier. It is unfair for the provincial government to allow hundreds of thousands of British Columbians to work full-time, full-year and remain below the poverty line. British Columbians deserve better.

We remain hopeful that the next report from the Fair Wages Commission, expected next month, will end a discriminatory system that allows for specific groups of workers, including farm workers and liquor servers, to earn less than the minimum wage. These individuals are highly vulnerable, and we expect the government to extend today's schedule of wage increases to all workers. 


Along with this much-needed increase in the minimum wage, it is important that the provincial government puts the resources in place to make sure employers are following the schedule of wage increases, and that workers are not cheated by employers in other ways. This means that more staff and funding are needed for the Employment Standards Branch to do proactive monitoring and enforcement of the implementation of the new minimum wage.


February 08, 2018

BCGEU Welcomes Review of Labour Code - BCGEU

The BCGEU welcomes the provincial government's announcement earlier this week that they have appointed a committee of special advisers to review the provincial labour code. This review is a good first step in the process of restoring fairness to both the labour code and the BC Labour Relations Board.

The code review panel will be consulting with stakeholders around B.C. before reporting back to Labour Minister Harry Bains this summer. The BCGEU will be participating in this process, as we recognize that the labour code is a significant piece of legislation that informs both how B.C.'s workers organize to join unions, and how unionized workers and their employers interact.

The labour code has not been reviewed nor significantly amended in 15 years, and it is time that it is updated. We hope to see the labour code amended to ensure balance and fairness for workers in B.C.




February 06, 2018

Hard Rock Casino workers vote to strike - BCGEU

Hard Rock Casino workers vote to strike

An astounding 99.5% vote in favour of strike action

Members of the BC Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) working at Hard Rock Casino in Coquitlam voted overwhelmingly in favour of taking strike action against their employer this week.

In a vote held from February 1-4, over 90% of Hard Rock staff came out and voted 99.5% in favour of taking strike action.

"Hard Rock workers are sending a clear message to their employer: they will not back down until they get the respect, fair wages and working conditions that they deserve," says BCGEU President Stephanie Smith.

The next step for Hard Rock workers is mediation, as required by the BC labour code, but strike preparations are already underway. 

"Hard Rock workers are ready to do whatever it takes to get a fair contract with their employer," says Smith. 

BCGEU represents over 400 staff at Hard Rock working in table games, slot attendants, cashiers, count room, kitchen, security, theatre and guest services. Employees at Hard Rock voted to join the BCGEU in May 2016 and have been trying to negotiate a first collective agreement with their employer since January 2017.

For more information contact Erin Sikora at 778-238-0300 or


February 05, 2018

B.C.’s liquor stores well positioned under new cannabis retail regulations - ...

The new retail cannabis regulations announced by the B.C. government leaves B.C.'s liquor stores well-positioned to provide safe, secure, reliable access to non-medical cannabis products, the Responsible Marijuana Retail Alliance of BC (RMRABC) said today.

While the government chose not to allow the sale of alcohol and cannabis in the same store, because of federal recommendations against co-location, they will permit standalone cannabis retail stores to be located adjacent to B.C's liquor store outlets.

"We regret that our proposal was not adopted by government, but we believe the key principles outlined in our submission could help guide the regulation of non-medical cannabis use in BC," said B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union president Stephanie Smith. "We're confident that our members are well-positioned to provide secure, responsible retail options for British Columbians and will work collaboratively with the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch and local communities to assist in this transition."

"We strongly support the role of local governments to decide how cannabis is sold inside their borders," said Jeff Guignard, Executive Director of ABLE BC. "Although you won't see cannabis inside liquor stores, we remain eager to work with our municipal partners to ensure cannabis is retailed safely and responsibly by experienced retailers in aged-controlled environments,".

Public and private liquor stores provide a proven, effective and secure choice for the sale of controlled products across the province. RMRABC believes that the new retail model will help keep these products out of the reach of children and eliminate the need for British Columbians to purchase cannabis products from unregulated black-market suppliers.

The RMARBC is a joint initiative by the BCGEU and ABLE BC. Combined public and private liquor stores provide a network of about 860 retail outlets in communities across the province. 



February 02, 2018

BCGEU presses budget priorities in letter to B.C. Finance Minister - BCGEU

As the new NDP government prepares to introduce their first full budget on February 20, the BCGEU used the opportunity to restate our union's budget priorities in a letter to B.C.


Finance Minister Carole James:


Dear Minister,

Re Priorities for the upcoming B.C. Budget 2018/2019

Thank you for the opportunity to share our members' observations and priorities in the lead-up to B.C. Budget 2018/19.

British Columbia is emerging from 16 years of fiscal austerity under the former B.C. Liberal government, where the wishes of business have been consistently prioritized over the needs of people and the environment.

As we entered into 2017, our province was left with one of the highest poverty rates in the country. Inequality was on the rise. We are living with a serious housing affordability crisis. Thousands of our citizens die each year from overdoses. Our prisons are overcrowded and increasingly violent. Few seniors have access to professional home support services. And action on climate change had been weakened after years of inaction.

Now, with new NDP government leadership, we are seeing signs that another way forward is possible. The Budget 2017 Update took important first steps to renew leadership in government. The update showed that investments in public services can be made without sacrificing fiscal responsibility.

The pending B.C. Budget 2018/19 marks an important moment, when our province can take the next steps toward a fiscal plan that truly puts families and communities first. We support the government's readiness to renew the tradition of progressive public leadership, and urge you to focus on rebuilding the social services on which the health of our society depends. 

We offer you these practical suggestions for strengthening the vital public programs and services that British Columbians rely on to improve their lives every day:

1. Develop and implement a comprehensive, affordable housing strategy.
2. Begin implementation of universal, affordable, $10 a Day Child Care.
3. Invest in community-based health services and the workers who serve our communities.
4. Restore funding to our justice system, especially for court services, corrections and legal aid services.
5. Make a significant re-investment in sustainable natural resource management, environmental protection and climate action.
6. Restore funding for post-secondary education.
7. Begin to restore balance in our workplaces by investing in the proactive enforcement of employment standards and a fairer, more effective Labour Relations Board.
8. Fully implement the recommendations of the Plecas Report, including increased staff resources in the Ministry of Children and Family Development.

To support these priorities, the BCGEU also recommends that the B.C. Government explore the following options to access additional revenue and restore fairness to B.C.'s tax and revenue system:

1. Further increase personal income tax rates for society's top earners.
2. Restore B.C.'s corporate income tax rate to 13.5 per cent permanently.
3. Implement new housing-related tax measures as part of an affordable housing strategy.
4. Eliminate costly and inefficient oil and gas subsidies.
5. Strengthen revenue opportunities for the Liquor Distribution Branch.
6. Build tourism revenue by restoring operational funding for BC Parks to 2001 levels.

We believe that immediate action to expand government revenues, invest in vital public services and to promote equality, sustainability and diversification will ensure the long-term vision for good jobs, healthy families, strong communities and a robust economy for British Columbia.

The BCGEU supports this government's efforts to implement changes to the current tax structure that will enhance revenue and improve fairness. We also challenge the government to consider additional improvements to restore equity and fairness to our economy and to protect our environment and natural resources for future generations.


Stephanie Smith
President, B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union.


Download PDF of letter here