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March 03, 2023

Shareholders call RBC and BMO to action on racial equity - BC General Employe...

Shareholders will soon get a chance to vote on two proposals on racial equity at the Bank of Montreal (BMO) and Royal Bank of Canada (RBC). The proposals were jointly filed by BCGEU with Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE) on behalf of the Atkinson Foundation.

This comes following announcements from both the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) and National Bank of Canada (NBC) who each announced that they will conduct and disclose the results of third-party racial equity audits. They join TD Bank, which made a similar announcement in April 2022

After engagements with both bank, either BMO or RBC commitments on racial equity, and as such these proposals will instead go to vote at their 2023 Annual General Meetings. Despite the new precedents being set by TD and now CIBC and NBC and TD Bank, both BMO and RBC have recommended shareholders vote against the proposals. 

A racial equity audit is an independent analysis of a company's business practices intended to identify and remediate potential and actual disparate outcomes for Indigenous people and communities of colour. The audit evaluates the merits of a company's efforts, policies and practices to tackle systemic racism in light of its racial justice commitment. 

BCGEU President Stephanie Smith says:

RBC and BMO's refusal to commit to these audits puts them at a disadvantage in a world where diversity, equity, and inclusion are increasingly important to customers, employees, workers, and investors. TD, NBC and CIBC may be the first Canadian banks to engage in this work, but they most certainly will not be the last. We intend to keep pushing banks and financial institutions on this critical issue." 

Colette Murphy, Chief Executive Officer at the Atkinson Foundation says:

The Atkinson Foundation is dedicated to social and economic justice. We believe financial institutions must play a positive role in helping people build inter-generational wealth and grow their businesses. Historically and persistently, banks have exacerbated the racial wealth gap, through overt policies, and unconscious bias. CIBC and NBC are taking an important step in committing to audits, which will help surface these issues and identify solutions that we can act on immediately together. 

Financial institutions play a key role in furthering racial equity in society, as they provide both businesses and individuals with access to essential economic opportunities.

Research has indicated that, when compared to their white counterparts, people of colour and Indigenous people are more likely to be denied loans, to be recommended products that were not properly serve their interests, or not offered crucial products at all such as overdraft protection and balance protection insurance.

By failing to provide equitable opportunities to people of colour and Indigenous people, banks have long perpetuated unequal wealth distribution. 

The decision by both BMO and RBC to forego conducting racial equity audits is particularly disappointing in light of their peers' recent commitments. 

According to Sarah Couturier-Tanoh, Associate Director of Corporate Engagement at SHARE:

When a company publicly commits to fighting racial injustice, it is expected that such a statement is backed up with concrete actions and measurable outcomes. Failure to do so is not only a missed opportunity to rectify racial inequities but also exposes institutional investors to meaningful reputational, legal and regulatory risks.

The resolutions at RBC and BMO will be the first shareholder proposals on racial equity audits to go to a vote at Canadian companies. Recently, numerous Canadian banks have faced controversy about the racial equity impacts of policies, products and practices, including the recent US$ 31 million settlement between the US Department of Justice and City National, an RBC subsidiary in the U.S., over allegations of redlining practices in majority-Black and Hispanic neighborhoods in California, signaling that SHARE's proposals are timely and critical. 


The B.C. General Employees' Union represents over 85,000 workers in almost every community and economic sector in British Columbia. Under BCGEU's capital stewardship strategy, the union has submitted shareholder proposals at some of Canada's largest companies on topics like human rights, racial equity, and executive compensation. The union's strategy has succeeded in achieving strong commitments on ESG issues. 


SHARE is an award-winning non-profit organization dedicated to mobilizing investor leadership for a sustainable, inclusive and productive economy. We do this by supporting our investor network and amplifying their voices to improve corporate sustainability practices and implement better rules and regulations that govern capital markets. For more information on SHARE, visit


The Atkinson Foundation is a Canadian charitable foundation committed to social and economic justice. Our highest priority is strengthening movements for decent work and a fair economy. We collaborate with community organizers, policy innovators and investors to challenge income, wealth and democratic inequality. Learn more about us here.


Supplementary Information regarding the Racial Equity Audit Proposal at RBC and BMO

March 02, 2023

BCGEU and UBCIC announce partnership to push corporate Canada to operationali...


March 2, 2023

BCGEU and UBCIC announce partnership to push corporate Canada to operationalize FPIC
The labour union and Indigenous political organization joined forces with the aim of combining their respective expertise to push financial institutions to operationalize FPIC.

Vancouver, BC, Musqueam Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Territories - The B.C. General Employees' Union (BCGEU) and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) have partnered to engage Canada's largest public companies on the operationalization of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) when it comes to business decisions that impact the rights of Indigenous peoples. FPIC is an essential principle of international human rights law that recognizes Indigenous peoples' right to make decisions about their lands and territories.

The groups will prioritize efforts to integrate FPIC into the operational policies and practices of financial institutions. The two have filed the only FPIC resolution to go to a vote this year at the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)'s Annual Meeting on April 5, 2023. The BCGEU, the shareholder, and UBCIC note that RBC lags behind other Canadian banks and has much more to do to operationalize FPIC into its corporate policies and activities.

"We have seen a lot of companies talking a lot of talk about the call to action #92. The time for words is over. The time for action is now," said Paul Finch, BCGEU Treasurer. "RBC taking action to operationalize FPIC will make it a better company and will give RBC additional leverage to effect meaningful and necessary change on the path towards reconciliation.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the UBCIC emphasized the importance of operationalizing FPIC in order to uphold Indigenous rights. "RBC needs to go beyond platitudes and performative activities and start implementing FPIC, which is fundamental to any credible reconciliation process," he said. "Canadian banks have treated Indigenous issues as Diversity, Equity and Inclusion matters rather than one intertwined with operations and business decision-making. While 'economic reconciliation' and Indigenous prosperity are important, neither can occur if banks like RBC continue to pour vast funds into projects and companies that do not obtain FPIC."

The shareholder proposal asks RBC to revise its Human Rights Position Statement so RBC can inform itself about how its business clients operationalize FPIC.

"Overlooking the right to FPIC is not only a material risk but will increasingly become a compliance risk as Human Rights Due Diligence legislation gains traction around the world," said Finch.

RBC and other banks often refer to the Equator Principles to address Indigenous rights. "Shareholders should not be persuaded by the banks' reliance on the Equator Principles. EP4 falls short of the minimum standard set out in UNDRIP and will not mitigate the material risks and contingent liability related to failing to meet the standard of Free Prior Informed Consent." said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip.

The groups have reached successful agreements with banks on similar proposals, including Bank of Montreal (BMO) and The Toronto-Dominion Bank. After engagement with BCGEU and UBCIC, BMO agreed to modify its Human Rights statement in addition to enhancing its due diligence for FPIC concerns and FPIC education as first steps towards operationalizing FPIC.

The RBC AGM takes place on April 5, 2023 in Saskatoon. Representatives from BCGEU and UBCIC will present the shareholder proposal in person.

Background materials:

For media inquiries, please contact:

Emma Pullman, BCGEU Capital Stewardship Officer, [email protected]
Ellena Neel, UBCIC Communications Manager, [email protected]

About BCGEU: The B.C. General Employees' Union represents over 85,000 workers in almost every community and economic sector in British Columbia. Under BCGEU's capital stewardship strategy, the union has submitted shareholder proposals at some of Canada's largest companies and has succeeded in achieving strong commitments on ESG issues.

About UBCIC: The Union of BC Indian Chiefs is a political advocacy organization that represents over 120 First Nations in British Columbia. The UBCIC works to uphold Indigenous sovereignty, promote self-determination, and advance Indigenous peoples' rights.


March 01, 2023

BCGEU community health workers ratify three-year deal - BC General Employees...

March 1, 2023 

BCGEU community health workers ratify three-year deal 

BURNABY, B.C. (Coast Salish Territories) – The member unions of the Community Bargaining Association (CBA) have ratified a new three-year collective agreement with the Health Employers Association of British Columbia (HEABC). The B.C. General Employees' Union (BCGEU) is the lead union representing 13,000 members and the agreement covers more than 21,000 community health workers across B.C. 

The deal was ratified by a vote of over 94 per cent. 

The tentative agreement represents substantial gains in key areas identified by members including significant wage increases averaging 14 to 16 per cent over three years, protecting workers' benefits, and providing greater control over working conditions. 

"In this round of bargaining, our members' main goal was to make meaningful progress toward closing the pay gap with their peers in other health sectors," said BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "Thanks to the solidarity and resolve of members in the sector, they met this goal and have made important gains towards the long-term sustainability of the community health sector. I'd like to thank the bargaining committee for its dedication to members and to all the people in B.C. that rely on these vital services." 

Members of the CBA are health care professionals who provide home care that enables seniors age in place, support people living with mental health and addictions challenges and provide administrative services to keep the community health care system running smoothly. 

The new agreement is effective April 1, 2022 to March 31, 2025. 

Other member unions of the CBA are UFCW, HEU, CUPE, HSA, USW, CLAC and BCNU.


Media contact: 

[email protected] 
BC General Employees' Union (BCGEU)


February 10, 2023

Area 04 Local Leadership Training Part 1 & 2 - BC General Employees' Union (B...

Area 04 Local Leadership Training Part 1 & 2

**Part 1: online (1-day) -  CHOOSE ONE OF March 30, April 5 OR April 14, 2023 &Part 2 – In-person (2-day) - April 17 & 18, 2023 

Area 04 Local Executive Leadership Training will be held in two parts. 

Part 1 is an all-day online webinar. You will have a choice of one of the three dates listed above. Part 2 is a two-day in-person training session being held at a venue in Pitt Meadows.

We are asking local chairs to coordinate their local executives to sign up for the Part 1 webinar on the same day when the registration is released.

Please watch for the registration information at the beginning of March.

**The Part 1 webinar is a pre-requisite to the Part 2 in-person training

Download PDF of notice here


February 06, 2023

Nineteen thousand workers in community social services reach tentative agreem...


February 6, 2023
Nineteen thousand workers in community social services reach tentative agreement

BURNABY, B.C.- Following one year of negotiations, the Community Social Services Bargaining Association (CSSBA), made up of about 19,000 union members provincewide, has reached a tentative agreement with the Community Social Services Employers’ Association (CSSEA). 

The agreement covers workers in community-based social services. Their jobs include providing quality child care and supporting people with disabilities, new Canadians, youth at risk, Indigenous families, and individuals facing family violence. Workers in this sector also secure supportive housing for clients and assist Indigenous service providers.

"This was an incredibly long and challenging round of bargaining. Our committee was dedicated to reaching the best possible deal for our members, and I am proud of our committee for the gains made,” said BCGEU president Stephanie Smith.
The tentative agreement has a three-year term and includes a general wage increase in each year. It also contains additional “low wage redress” increases, and improvements to sick leave, health and welfare benefits, leave provisions, safety and health, layoff and recall, bullying and harassment language.
Centring around the principles of decolonization and truth and reconciliation, the agreement also includes important measures to support workers in Indigenous Services. It works toward achieving full parity with their counterparts in the Public Service while maintaining their ability to provide culturally competent services for Indigenous families.
Full details will be shared with union members in the coming weeks as the bargaining association prepares for ratification.
“Community social services workers are the heart of our communities, and they support some of our province’s most vulnerable people,” said Smith. “It was critical in this round of bargaining that these workers get the respect and recognition that they deserve, and that our members see themselves reflected in their collective agreement.”
The Community Social Services Bargaining Association (CSSBA) is an association of independent unions that bargain collectively. The BCGEU is the lead union representing 12,000 of about 19,000 members of the CSSBA. Other unions at the table were CUPE, HEU, HSA, CSWU Local 1611, CLAC, USW 1-417, UFCW and BCNU.


For more information contact BCGEU Communications: [email protected]


February 01, 2023

Black History Month 2024 - BC General Employees' Union (BCGEU)

Black History Month 2024: Celebrating Black Excellence — A Heritage to Celebrate; a Future to Build.
Black History Month is an opportunity to celebrate the achievements, investments, and contributions of Black communities and to commit ourselves to lifelong learning and allyship. Let's not only reflect on the history and ongoing legacy of racism, but also take action to dismantle systemic oppression.
Attend events, engage in conversations, and actively participate in initiatives that promote diversity, equality, and inclusion. By working together, we can build a future that embodies the principles of justice and equity. You can find events and resources for Black History Month below:


Making Histories: An Exhibition of Black Artists

What: Visit this free exhibition to view work from local Black artists that celebrates Black History Month. Making Histories: An Exhibition of Black Artists has been created by four local Black artists from Langley, New Westminster and Surrey:

When: January 26th- April 3
Time:Monday to Friday: 6am to 10pm Saturday: 7am to 7pm Sunday: 7am to 5pm
Where: Cloverdale Recreation Centre: 6188 - 176 Str (second floor)
Cost: Free

Online Speaker Series: Hidden Histories - Adult

What:Discover hidden Black histories left out of textbooks that shaped the Lower Mainland in this seminar.

When: February 14

Time: 12- 1 pm
Where: Livestream and in-person at Hermann’s Upstairs, 751 View Street, Victoria.
Cost: Free, advance registration required

Pages on Stage: A Black Storytelling Event

What: In partnership with QMUNITY, this Vancouver Public Library event features queer, Black storytellers who will take the stage to share stories. The event promises that “each storyteller will weave a narrative exploring the intersections of their identity, offering the audience the nuances of the Black queer experience.”

When: Saturday, February 24, 2024

Time: 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Where: Central Library, Vancouver
Cost: Free, no regristration required, link here

Black History and Heritage Day

What: Take this opportunity to meet and talk with direct descendants about their stories and family history and meet with local organizations that are dedicated to the preservation of historical records related to Black history in BC. The exhibits include images, artifacts, and archival documents. Free!

Live Music in Clifford Carl Hall by the Noedy HD Trio with Noedy Hecavarria Duharte – saxophone, Phil Albert – bass, and Miles Fuller – drums

When: February 10

Time: 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Where: Royal BC Museum 675 Belleville Street, Victoria, BC, V8W 9W2
Cost: Free, no registration required, link here

Black History Month at Viff



  • Subtle Act of Exclusion: How to understand, Identify, and Stop Microaggressions by Tiffany Jana and Michael Baran
  • Black Women Under State: Surveillance, Poverty, & the Violence of Social Assistance by Idil Abdillahi  
  • White Fragility: Why it's So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism by Robin Diangelo
  • They said this would be fun: Race, Campus Life, and Growing Up by Eternity Martis
  • Caste by Isabel Wilkerson
  • The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
  • Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do by Jennifer L. Eberhardt
  • Blind Spot: Hidden Biases of Good People by Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald
  • Bigger than Bravey: Black Resilience and Reclamation in a Time of Pandemic by Valerie Boyd, Alice Walker, Kiese Laymon  


January 26, 2023

Vantage Living - Tentative deal for seniors’ care workers - BC General Emplo...

BURNABY, B.C. (Coast Salish Territories) – Members of the B.C. General Employees' Union (BCGEU) working at Vantage Living Inc. – owner of independent living facility Lakeside Manor – reached a tentative agreement with their employer after meeting with a mediator on January 25, 2023. Until the vote on the tentative agreement is held, the union's job action will stand down. 

"From the 84 per cent strike vote last October, to serving 72-hour strike notice earlier this month, members at Lakeside Manor have shown solidarity and the kind of fight it takes to get a fair deal," said BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "That solidarity enabled the bargaining committee to secure a deal that will improve conditions for everyone that lives and works in this facility." 

Details of the tentative agreement will be shared with members in the coming days followed by a vote on whether to accept the agreement. 

The BCGEU represents 30 workers at Lakeside Manor who work as laundry attendants, room attendants, line cooks, chefs, dishwashers, servers and activities and events specialists. 

For more information contact: [email protected] or 604-291-9611.


January 14, 2023

Job action postponed for seniors’ care workers - BC General Employees' Union ...

January 14, 2023


MEDIA ADVISORY: Job action postponed for seniors' care workers
BURNABY, B.C. (Coast Salish Territories) – Job action has now been postponed for members of the B.C. General Employees' Union (BCGEU) working for Vantage Living Inc. – owner of independent living facility Lakeside Manor in Salmon Arm. This follows 72-hour strike notice issued to the company on Friday. 

Vantage Living Inc. has applied for mediation which is set for January 25, 2023. The BCGEU, representing 30 workers at this facility, is hopeful a fair deal can be reached in mediation and without disruption to the residents. 

The BCGEU is one of the largest unions in British Columbia, with over 85,000 members in almost every community and economic sector in the province.

For more information contact: [email protected] 


January 13, 2023

Seniors’ care workers issue 72-hour strike notice - BC General Employees' Un...

January 13, 2023

Seniors' care workers issue 72-hour strike notice 

(Coast Salish Territories) – Members of the B.C. General Employees' Union (BCGEU) have issued 72-hour strike notice to Vantage Living Inc. – owner of independent living facility Lakeside Manor – as of 11:00 a.m., January 13, 2023. This action is being taken following several months of negotiations that have yet to result in an agreement that provides wage increases that address the rising cost of living and will reduce high staff turnover. 
"This dispute is about seniors' care workers fighting for the respect and support they deserve, and the respect and support those in their care deserve," said BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "Our members are demanding fair compensation so they can put a stop to the revolving door of poorly paid workers and deteriorating conditions at Lakeside Manor." 

The union is seeking wage increases in line with inflation so these workers can catch up and keep up with rising costs. Right now, most workers make minimum wage with the highest pay at $20.90 per hour.

"This is another case of a for-profit company prioritizing the bottom line over wages and working conditions and by extension, the conditions of care residents experience" continued Smith. "For this reason, Lakeside Manor residents are also engaged and supporting members' actions to improve conditions for everyone that lives and works in the facility." 

The bargaining committee remains dedicated to reaching an agreement without commencing job action and is willing to use every minute of the next 72 hours to get a deal done without any disruption to residents. 

If no agreement is reached, job action will commence on Monday January 16, 2023, at 11:00 a.m. with workers walking off the job and on to the picket line. 

Media are invited to attend the strike kick off:

WHAT: Strike kick off for members of Lakeside Manor. 

WHEN: Monday, January 16, 2023, at 11:30 a.m. PST 

WHERE: 681 Harbour Front Drive, NE, in Salmon Arm, B.C. 

VISUALS: Independent seniors living workers, joined in solidarity by some
of the residents they care for and other allies, calling for a fair deal with
colourful union flags and signs. 

The BCGEU represents 30 workers at Lakeside Manor who voted 84 per cent in favour of strike action last October. 

The BCGEU is one of the largest unions in British Columbia, with over 85,000 members in almost every community and economic sector in the province.

For more information contact: [email protected]