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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.


October 24, 2016

Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System

Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System

You may have noticed a change with the hazardous product labelling at your worksite. This is due to the adoption of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). The Globally Harmonized System was initiated to standardize information on the safe use of hazardous products in Canadian workplaces and with our major trading partners.

For the sake of clarity, the original WHMIS referred to as WHMIS 1988 will be replaced with the updated version called WHMIS 2015. British Columbia amended the WHMIS sections of the provincial Occupational Health and Safety Regulation (OHSR) to be consistent with these changes. This can be found under Part 5 of the Regulation.

WHMIS 2015 will still require employers to:

  • Ensure that all hazardous products are properly labelled
  • Make Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) readily available to workers
  • Prepare workplace labels and SDSs as necessary
  • Provide worker education and training
  • Ensure appropriate control measures to protect the health and safety of workers
  • Consult with the health and safety committee (or representative) when developing, implementing or reviewing the education and training programs.
  • Review their overall WHMIS education and training program, at least annually or more often if there is a change in work conditions, hazard information or similar. This review should also be done in consultation with the health and safety committee or representative.

Workers are required to:

  • Participate in WHMIS training programs
  • Take necessary steps to protect themselves and their co-workers
  • Participate in identifying and controlling hazards

A multi-year transition plan is in effect and during the transition period, both the original WHMIS 1988 and WHMIS 2015 system may be used in the workplace. If products from both systems are used in the workplace, employers must educate and train workers and comply with both systems concurrently, including training on both. The transition to WHMIS 2015 must be completed by December 1, 2018.

More training about WHMIS 2015 will be available for Area 07 OHS representatives at the Okanagan area office in Kelowna. An Occupational Health course (BC Fed) is booked for November 15, 2016. WHMIS 2015 information can also be found at the following websites.


Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS)

Health Canada at

Workers Compensation Board of BC at

Questions? Contact your BCGEU Occupational Health and Safety Officers at [email protected]


October 18, 2016

Oxfam Canada launches new campaign for gender equality

Oxfam Canada is launching a new campaign this week called Shortchanged.

The campaign’s goal is to shift the public debate on care responsibilities and build a movement of people who want to accelerate progress for women.

In particular, the campaign will help create awareness and mobilize Canadians around the issue of women’s inequality in work. 

In the coming months, Shortchanged will challenge Canada’s leadership to ensure women’s equality at work is front and centre when creating the federal budget along with policy decisions that will affect women in Canada and abroad.

Click here to learn more about the campaign. 

October 14, 2016

Occupational Health and Safety Committee Representatives in Area 07 - BC Fede...

The “Occupational Health” course will be offered at the Okanagan area office in Kelowna on Tuesday, November 15, 2016 from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm. This course will be delivered by a facilitator from the BC Federation of Labour Health and Safety Centre.

Health hazards are not as obvious and apparent as safety hazards in the workplace and as such often don’t receive proper attention and resources comparatively but their effects can be devastating.

Empowering workers, supervisors and managers to interpret reports, Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and research potential health hazards is a vital role and function of any proactive health and safety program.

Learn about new legislative changes to WHMIS through the introduction of the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) for chemicals and controlled products. These new requirements change the way that chemicals are labeled, stored and inventoried.

Learn about the best practices and industry standards concerning occupational hygiene monitoring. Who, what, where, when and how to sample exposures to workplace toxins is imperative knowledge for any workplace wanting to be in compliance with both Provincial and Federal legislation.

In this course participants will:

  • Learn about how our bodies are affected by workplace toxins and exposures e.g. Asbestos, Molds, Biological Hazards, Noise and Combustible Dust.
  • Learn about pending changes relating to the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) and the new Globally Harmonized System (GHS).
  • Gain an understanding of the theory and practice of occupational hygiene monitoring and interpreting occupational hygiene reports, including TLV’s and TWA’s along with other important terms and reference

You are entitled to take at least 8 hours of annual health and safety training. Your employer must pay any reasonable costs in order for you to take this training, including your leave of absence from work. You must apply for this training through your employer and the cost of this training is $115 per person. Employer OHS representatives are invited to register but will only be accepted if there is space. The maximum registration is 24. A pre-requisite for this course is the BCGEU 1 day Basic OHS (Labour Code) or 2 Day Basic Government OHS training.

If you have already taken your 8 hours of annual training, the OHS department will consider sponsoring you to take this training. Please indicate your need for this sponsorship when you register through your area office. The area office will then confirm the funding with the OHS department.

Contact the Okanagan area office to 250-763-6405 to register.  Please provide your leave requirements and any dietary restrictions.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to learn about health hazards in the workplace. If you have any questions, please contact the Okanagan area office or email [email protected]

Download PDF of notice here.


October 07, 2016

BCGEU makes budget submission to Finance Committee

BCGEU president Stephanie Smith made a presentation to the B.C. Select Standing Committee on Finance and Governnment Services today, outlining the union’s priorities for the upcoming provincial budget.

Smith noted that it’s time to chart a different course in British Columbia and urged the government to take steps to accomplish three main objectives – quality jobs for all British Columbians; reliable, effective social supports for families and communities; and effective protection for our environment and natural resources.

To achieve those goals, Smith recommended a series of initiatives, including: implementing a comprehensive poverty reduction plan; making critical investments in BC’s justice system; Commiting resources for climate action and natural resource management; and restoring funding for post-secondary education, among others.

“The BCGEU continues to challenge the B.C. government to implement meaningful revenue improvements in key areas of the economy, to reduce poverty, improve public safety and expand responsible environmental stewardship in our province,” said Smith.