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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.

September 30, 2016

Watch: Stephanie Smith looks back on a busy week and speaks about the importa...

BCGEU president Stephanie Smith looks back on a busy week in Victoria that included worksite visits, a member BBQ and the Union of BC Municipalities convention. She also honours the work of Phyllis Webstad on Orange Shirt Day. Have a look:

September 20, 2016

Local 1708 SEM Members Bargaining Committee

To:     All BCGEU Local 1708 Members               
Re:    Bargaining Committee


Please be advised that the following BCGEU members have been elected to your Bargaining Committee:

                                Lindsey Hamilton
                                Julie Free
                                Melissa Vitaliano
                                Patricia Chambers (Alternate)


Thank you to all the members that put their names forward for a position on the committee.


Download PDF of notice here



September 16, 2016

Important information on registering for BCGEU-BCPSA OHS Safety Education Pro...

Important information on registering for BCGEU-BCPSA OHS Safety Education Program courses

The joint BCGEU-BC Public Service Agency Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Education Program is now 22 years old. Through this collaboration we are able to offer valuable training to our OHS committee worker representatives all across the province.

Members in the public service register for these courses through the Public Service Agency Learning Centre website. Space is limited for these courses and many courses have waiting lists.  However, we encourage you to register even when courses are full. This allows your union to gauge member interest for specific OHS training, which then allows us to create additional spaces in courses or add more courses to meet member demand.

Click here to learn more about BCGEU’s OHS services.




September 12, 2016

BC Makes Little Progress on Public Service Diversity Gap

Visible minorities and Indigenous people are still dramatically underrepresented in the B.C. public service, according to the province’s latest report on workforce diversity. Read more...