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December 06, 2016

December 6: Never forget

It’s hard to believe, but 27 years have passed since 14 young women were slain at the École Polytechnique, an event also known as the Montreal Massacre. It remains one of the darkest days in our nation’s history.

In 1991, the Parliament of Canada established December 6, the anniversary of the devastating event, the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women in Canada. Each year on this day we honour the 14 young women whose lives were tragically cut short in an act of gender-based violence.

Take a moment to remember the victims of the École Polytechnique, each of whom were singled out and murdered just because they were women.

It is not only a day to remember and mourn the victims of École Polytechnique, but it is also a day to reflect that gender-based violence and oppression is a daily reality for many women and girls. The brutal truth is that violence against women and girls is still pervasive throughout Canada, disproportionally impacting Aboriginal women, trans women, and women of colour. According to Statistics Canada, approximately every six days, a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner. The statistics are even more grim for Canada’s Aboriginal women: they are killed at six times the rate of non-Aboriginal women.

Violence against women has a devastating impact on women’s lives and on our society. We, as individuals and within our communities, must continue to work towards eliminating all forms of violence against women.

See below for a list of useful online resources and for events across the province.

In solidarity,

Stephanie Smith
Chair, BCGEU Women’s Committee
President, BCGEU


  • PovNet has a listing of resources for women throughout BC: 
  • The Ending Violence Association of BC has programs targeting different areas
  • Women Against Violence Against Women offers many ways to volunteer
  • Native Women's Association of Canada for links to aboriginal resources:
  • Battered Women's Support Services has an extensive listing of services and volunteer opportunities: 


Click here for a comprehensive list of events in communities across BC.

December 03, 2016

Celebrating International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Today we are proud to recognize the United Nations' International Day of Persons with Disabilities.   

This day was created to bring awareness and understanding and to take action to further the rights of persons with disabilities both legally and in society. 

Even though we have a come a long way in Canada there remains much more to do to achieve the equity in our society. 

The United Nations's theme for this year is “Achieving 17 Goals for the Future We Want”.  Based on the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, the 17 goals aim to help individuals and organizations identify easy ways they can make a difference. Click here for more information on the United Nations Sustainable Development agenda 

To join the BCGEU Equity and Human Rights network for workers with disabilities or one of our other equity networks please visit our campaign page.

November 29, 2016

OSH Appointment Process Deadline

D-day is here!!


On November 30th the names of over 2800 designated Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) representatives will disappear from the BCGEU database. Locals should ensure their confirmed choices for new or reappointed OHS representatives are submitted to their area offices before this date. If OHS appointments are not completed for each worksite, OSH representatives will not have the ability to attend committee meetings or to qualify for OHS education and training. More importantly, the BCGEU’s ability to represent our members in the protection of their health and safety will be seriously impacted.


  • Previous OHS representatives, please contact your local chair immediately if you have not communicated your intention to be reappointed.
  • Members who are interested in becoming an OHS representative, please contact your local chair immediately to be considered for appointment.
  • Local chairs, if you have already completed your OHS appointment process thank you very much. If you have not completed the OHS appointment process, we urge you to give this your immediate attention.


If you have any questions or concerns or need help please contact your area office or the BCGEU OHS Department at [email protected].


Thank you all for your hard work and dedication to health and safety at the BCGEU.



Download PDF of notice here



November 25, 2016

BCGEU supports trade unionists in Haiti after Hurricane Matthew

Early in October, Haiti was hit by Hurricane Matthew, causing more damage to an island still recovering from the earthquake of 2010. As part of the Public Services International (PSI) relief campaign, the BCGEU sent a contribution to help with community rebuilding. The relief will go to trade union members and their families directly. For more information on the campaign, visit the PSI Hurricane Matthew website

November 14, 2016

Union, B.C. private liquor stores push for pot to be sold in their stores

Recreational pot could be coming to a public or private liquor store near you. Read more...

November 11, 2016

Your sacrifice shall not be forgotten - Remembrance Day 2016

Today we honor and reflect on the sacrifice that those in our armed forces have made to protect our country and the freedoms we all enjoy.  We also must not forget the sacrifices made by men and women in our armed forces in protecting other countries. 

Remembrance Day commemorates the anniversary of the end of World War I.  Since then Canada has been involved in many conflicts and peacekeeping missions around the world and continues to be involved in military interventions in the middle east. 

Our service men and women play a role in not only protecting Canada but also other countries. 

In recent years there has been increased awareness about the less obvious effects that time in conflict can have on those who serve: those of mental and emotional distress.

In a recent interview, retired lieutenant-general Romeo Dallaire touched on how he once avoided Remembrance Day “like the plague” due to the atrocities witnessed during his service.

Mr. Dallaire encourages all Canadians to acknowledge the sacrifices made by our armed forces and to express thanks for their service, but to also know that the day brings about difficult emotions for many of those we honour.

“It is a fundamental duty of the citizenry to feel that pride.  And to express it,” said Dallaire. “To express it by being there, to express it by buying poppy, to express by shaking the hands of a vet or serving soldier. Actually stopping somebody in uniform on the street and thanking them”

Today the BCGEU extends gratitude and thanks to all those who have served in Canada’s military and to those who are currently serving.

Your sacrifice shall not be forgotten.

November 10, 2016

A victory for students, teachers and public education in B.C.

On behalf of the 70,000 workers of the BCGEU, and as a parent myself, I want to congratulate the BC Teachers' Federation on their courage and determination in standing up for the children of this province. The BCTF was right to push back on the provincial government's attempts to decide by themselves what a classroom looks like. It's great news that the BCTF finally won the right to include class size and composition in their collective bargaining.

Teachers' working conditions are students' learning conditions, and by insisting that teachers have a say in class size and composition at the bargaining table, the BCTF has ensured the best outcomes for our kids. Teachers are in their classrooms every single day because they care, and they are best placed to know what's good for their students.

In their decision, the courts also reaffirmed the constitutional right of all Canadians to strike and have a fair collective bargaining process – things that impact all unionized workers across the country. This decision strengthens our rights to stand strong in solidarity with other workers.

Well done, BCTF!

- Stephanie Smith, BCGEU president

November 09, 2016

The best system for non-medical marijuana sales already exists - Op-Ed The Pr...

By Stephanie Smith & Damian Kettlewell

Love it or hate it, public retailing of non-medical marijuana is coming.

With that in mind, the most socially responsible way to sell it in B.C. is through our existing public and private liquor stores.

When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals took office in October 2015, they did so with a host of mandates from Canadians. Former prime minister Stephen Harper thought that the Liberals’ position on legal marijuana would sink them, but in the end it was hardly an issue at all.

Now, it’s up to the Trudeau government to work out the details on removing marijuana from the Criminal Code, but the provinces have the responsibility of determining how it will be regulated, sold and distributed.

The B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union and the B.C. Private Liquor Store Association formed the Responsible Marijuana Retail Alliance of B.C. in December 2015. We are working together on a straightforward goal: to see legal, non-medical marijuana warehoused and distributed through the existing Liquor Distribution Branch system and sold in B.C. alongside alcohol in liquor stores.

It’s not every day that substances are removed from the Criminal Code. Here in B.C., we have a system that is perfectly suited to handle the change. Our public and private liquor stores are already regulated and established in communities across the province.

We have witnessed confusion in Vancouver where the municipal government has spent a great deal of time and effort to create a new permitting system for medical marijuana. Vancouver’s current system continues to create complications and frustrations for both consumers and businesses while raising legitimate risks to youth with low compliance rates.

In the large majority of cases, liquor stores in B.C. have above 90-per-cent compliance rates for age verification. Youth in B.C. have a much more difficult time accessing alcohol than they do tobacco.

On the distribution side, the LDB operates a secure network that already transports hundreds of millions of dollars of a controlled substance every year. Creating a separate, parallel system to accomplish something that our province already does so well would be unnecessarily costly and time-consuming. Money would be diverted from important public services like education and health care into additional bureaucracy.

B.C. is ready to lead on the sale of non-medical marijuana. Numerous polls leading up to last year’s federal election suggested that support for legalization here was substantially higher than in any other province. Around two-thirds of British Columbians support outright legalization, and many more supporting decriminalization.

Our two organizations have not taken a stand on the legalization or consumption of non-medical marijuana. Legalization is inevitable. Being pragmatic, we believe marijuana should be sold in the most socially responsible way possible.

Looking south of the border to Colorado and Washington, once their systems were up and running, tax revenues from marijuana sales have exceeded forecasts in both states. This year, marijuana sales in Colorado are on pace to contribute $125 million to the state coffers.

However, that is just tax revenue from private sales. Profits from our public stores and distribution network contribute over $900 million annually to education, health care and other vital public services. These funds help keep other taxes down.

B.C. has recently shown initiative with our burgeoning local wine, beer and spirits industries. While regulations on how marijuana is grown will be determined by others, we feel this is another place where marijuana can follow the model of alcohol: producers of a variety of sizes, including local producers, and a small allowance for non-commercial personal production.

We need to ensure that marijuana legalization benefits our province while we reduce risk by keeping sales in a strictly age-controlled environment with the strongest track record of checking identification.

If done properly, with the appropriate regulatory oversight and safeguards in place, legalized marijuana can create jobs and generate public revenue to fund public services.

Read the original here.

November 08, 2016

Honouring Aboriginal Veterans

On November 8 we, as Canadians, honor and celebrate the great contributions and sacrifices that Aboriginal peoples have made in defending Canada during times of war. Aboriginal veterans have participated in all major wars since the war of 1812 and enlist at a higher proportion than any other group in Canada.   

For many, enlisting presented many challenges such as learning English, leaving their communities for the first time, and leaving family behind. As challenging as these are, they were also expected to adjust to a new culture. As we have seen throughout history, as with all Aboriginal peoples, they showed their strength and resilience and not only adjusted but excelled.  Many of Canada’s most decorated soldiers were Aboriginal. 

Their contribution to the freedoms we enjoy in Canada cannot be forgotten. Today we honor those veterans and give thanks for their contribution and sacrifice. We also give thanks to the Aboriginal people that currently serve in Canada’s military.