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June 20, 2016

BCGEU celebrates the 20th National Aboriginal Day

On June 21, 1996 the federal government declared the first National Aboriginal Day. Since that time, the BCGEU has joined the celebrations and the calls for increased support and recognition of Aboriginal peoples across Canada.

Over the course of those 20 years, Aboriginal peoples in Canada have fought for and won many advancements and reinforcements of their rights – sometimes through government initiatives, but often through rulings in Canada’s court system. (see cases below)

These decisions by Canada’s highest courts and Human Rights Tribunal have defined existing Aboriginal rights under Section 35 of the Constitution Act and helped to eliminate the systemic discrimination that past Canadian governments have imposed on Aboriginal peoples.

These court decisions, while at-times cumbersome and time-consuming, have helped inform Canadians of the constitutional rights and responsibilities which hold our governments accountable as we move forward as a nation. 

In addition to the court rulings, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report, released in 2015, chronicled the legacy of cultural genocide endured by First Nations peoples at the hands of the Canadian government. The report provides 94 recommendations representing calls-to-action to Canadians, including the initiation of a statutory holiday to reflect on the truth and reconciliation process. 

On this important anniversary, the BCGEU joins First Nations in calling on all Canadians to become familiar with the TRC calls-to-action and to honour the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. By building unity with Indigenous peoples, Canada can become an international example in advancing the rights of Aboriginal peoples.


June 20, 2016

BCGEU demands freedom for Iranian trade unionists

In solidarity with the Free Them Now campaign to free jailed workers in Iran, the BCGEU sent two letters demanding the release of Jafar Azimzadeh and other jailed trade union leaders. Click here to read the general solidarity letter, and click here for the the more specific letter. 

June 13, 2016

Love must be greater than hate – Orlando shootings

The BCGEU expresses deep sorrow at the brutal hate crime which occurred in Orlando, Florida this past weekend and sends condolences to the families of the more than 100 innocent people who were killed and seriously injured at the Pulse nightclub on Sunday morning.

Much of the news coverage has focused on allegations of extremist religious motives. But this was not an act of terrorism, although the effects reverberate fear across the LGBTQ+ community. This was a hate crime, exacerbated by a culture of intolerance and a lack of responsible gun control measures.

When politicians and political candidates are given license to promote racism, religious prejudice and homophobia, it fosters a culture of hate.

When people are allowed to purchase guns without a background check and with little or no public scrutiny, inevitably acts of violence will follow.

Canada is also not immune to hate crimes, despite progressive legislation and a reputation for tolerance. According to Statistics Canada, 1,414 hate-motivated criminal incidents were reported in 2012. Of those, 52 per cent were racially or ethnically motivated, 30 per cent were based on religious discrimination and 13 per cent had homophobic roots. 

But the LGBTQ+ community has a long history of resisting oppression and bigotry, going back to the Stonewall rebellion against repressive police raids in 1969. Last night there were vigils around the world to show support for the Orlando shooting victims, their friends and families.

The tragedy in Orlando is a stark reminder of intolerance in our society and fuels our determination to continue to fight for universal equity and human rights in Canada and around the world.

Over the next few months, Pride events will be taking place across the province. Please join in the events and help send a message that intolerance, discrimination and hatred have no place in our society. Celebrate diversity and make our world a place of acceptance, respect and freedom.


June 13, 2016

The Columbia Institute releases a climate change report

The Columbia Institute released a brand-new report today: Top Asks for Climate Action - Ramping Up Low Carbon Communities. You can find it and a summary here.

Local governments have a crucial role to play in combating climate change. Their decisions directly or indirectly impact sixty percent of Canada’s energy consumption and more than fifty percent of GHG emissions. Top Asks pinpoints what local governments need from the federal, provincial and territorial governments to realize climate action. 





June 10, 2016

BCGEU writes Colombian and Canadian governments on repression

In early June, the BCGEU learned that Colombian state security forces used indiscriminate and excessive force against Colombian citizens engaged in peaceful protest. This led to deaths, serious injuries and arrests of citizens taking part in the “National Agrarian, Peasant, Ethnic and Grassroots Mobilization – for Good Living, A structural Agrarian Reform and Dignified Cities – Sowing Hope, Harvesting our Country”. The current mobilization was organized by a broad coalition of Indigenous, Afro-Colombian and peasant farmer organizations that have deep concerns with the Colombian government’s development model, in particular its impact on marginalized communities and their access to land and food security.

The BCGEU joined with CoDevelopment Canada in sending letters to both the Colombian government and the Canadian government


June 01, 2016

Workplace first aid requirements

First aid is an important element of workplace health and safety. This includes having the correct equipment, procedures and trained people in place to respond in the event of a workplace injury.

Here are the basic first aid requirements under the Workers Compensation Act:

 (1) The employer must provide for each workplace such equipment, supplies, facilities, first aid attendants and services as are adequate and appropriate for

      (a) promptly rendering first aid to workers if they suffer an injury at work, and

      (b) transporting injured workers to medical treatment

2) For the purpose of complying with subsection (1), the employer must conduct an assessment of the circumstances of the workplace, including

      (a) the number of workers who may require first aid at any time,

      (b) the nature and extent of the risks and hazards in the workplace, including whether or not the workplace as a whole creates a low, moderate or high risk of injury,

      (c) the types of injuries likely to occur,

      (d) any barriers to first aid being provided to an injured worker, and

      (e) the time that may be required to obtain transportation and to transport an injured worker to medical treatment.

(3) The employer must review the assessment under subsection (2)

      (a) within 12 months after the previous assessment or review, and

      (b) whenever a significant change affecting the assessment occurs in the employer's operations.

(4) First aid equipment, supplies and facilities must be kept clean, dry and ready for use, and be readily accessible at any time a worker works in the workplace.

In addition, employers must document all injuries and exposures to contaminants that are reported or treated. These first aid records must be kept for at least 3 years.

Click here for a table and chart identifying the first aid program you need at your worksite (scroll down to section Schedule 3-A Minimum levels of First Aid).

If you would like any information on first aid requirements or any other occupational health and safety topics please contact the BCGEU OHS department at: [email protected]


May 30, 2016

OHS Representatives in the province right to refuse unsafe work

Recent incidents at Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Coquitlam have highlighted the need for workers to be made aware of their rights and duties under the Worker’s Compensation Act in carrying out their work.

On May 23, BCGEU members were injured while transporting a patient from the Royal Columbian Hospital back to the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital. A preliminary investigation has been conducted and temporary measures put in place until the full investigation is completed.

The BCGEU believes that had the workers been made aware of their rights under the Workers’ Compensation Act, this incident could have been prevented. Workers have a “right to refuse unsafe work”. It’s a step by step process that brings in a WorkSafeBC Board Officer to the work site if the employer and worker can’t agree on how to address a safety issue. Remember, the employer cannot take action against you if you properly follow the process when exercising your right to refuse unsafe work as per Section 3.12 of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations and Part 3, Division 6 of the Workers Compensation Act.

The BCGEU will continue to monitor the most recent incident at Forensic Psychiatric to ensure these workers receive the support they need.  But we will also be supporting your workplace OHS Committee in their efforts to ensure the employer fulfills its responsibility for ensuring workers have the information, instruction, training and supervision necessary to stay healthy and safe on the job. 

We know workers at Forensic Psychiatric Hospital experience a higher rate of injury from violence than at other health facilities. A WorkSafeBC Board Officer inspection Report noted, “the employer’s current injury rate is 3% higher than that of other acute hospitals, with 47% of the employer’s injuries resulting from violence”. Clearly, there is a need for improvement at this worksite.

On May 24, our Occupational Health and Safety Officer delivered training sessions that specifically instructed members on how to invoke their “right to refuse unsafe work” as per Section 3.12 of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations. We are prepared to offer additional training sessions as needed.

The BCGEU has also created a new pocket card to guide workers, step by step, through the process of refusing unsafe work. Contact information for WCB and the BCGEU is included on this card so you can access extra support. Click on the link below to print off a PDF of the pocket card or contact us if you would like cards mailed to you.

If you have any questions, contact us at [email protected]  604-291-9611 or toll free at 1-800-663-1674                 

            Click here for PDF of pocket card

Sherry Ogasawara      Vice President, Health Services

Sean Antrim              Staff Representative

Wendy Mah               Occupational Health and Safety Officer

May 27, 2016

2016 BCGEU Scholarship Winners

Shaelyn Ann Loise Blatta, West Kelowna

Flora Copley, Barriere

Ruth Dyck, Williams Lake

Haven Evans, Prince George

Elisabeth Hill, Port Alberni

Ramona Jones, White Rock

Isaiah Joseph, Langford

Pamela Lozano Fernandez, Chilliwack

Kayla MacKay, Victoria

Tessa Milic, Delta

Sarah Osborne, Victoria

Tenysha Ross-Van Mierlo, Castlegar

Lindsay Russell, Port Moody

Jaya Scott, Victoria

Jordan Tarchuk, Surrey

Gary Wong, Burnaby

*Winners will receive a letter with instructions on how to claim their award.

Please check back in the fall for information on the 2017 Scholarship Award Program.

May 20, 2016

The National Union's scholarship program for 2016

Four awards of $1,500 are given each year to children of NUPGE, including BCGEU, members. The deadline for applications is July 6, 2016.

Each year, the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) offers four scholarships that reflect its pursuit of equal opportunity for all workers. They are open to the children, grandchildren or foster children of the National Union’s 360,000 members who are starting a post-secondary education. Some scholarships may have additional requirements, as noted below.

The Tommy Douglas Scholarship for $1,500 is open to all students who plan to enter the first year of a Canadian public post-secondary education institution full-time in 2016 - 2017 and who are the children, grandchildren or foster children of a NUPGE member. It will be awarded for the best 750 — 1,000 word essay on: How Tommy Douglas contributed to making Canada a more just and equitable society.

               Information and application for Tommy Douglas Scholarship available here.

The Terry Fox Memorial Scholarship for $1,500 is open to all students with disabilities who plan to enter the first year of a Canadian public post-secondary education institution full-time in 2016 — 2017 and who are the children, grandchildren or foster children of a member of NUPGE. It will be awarded for the best 750 — 1,000 word essay on: The importance of quality public services in enhancing the quality of life of people with disabilities.

               Information and application for the Terry Fox Memorial Scholarship available here.

The Scholarship for Aboriginal Canadians for $1,500 is open to all Aboriginal Canadian students who plan to enter the first year of a Canadian public post-secondary education institution full-time in 2016 — 2017 and who are the children, grandchildren or foster children of a NUPGE member. It will be awarded for the best 750 — 1,000 word essay on: The importance of quality public services in enhancing the quality of life of Aboriginal Canadians.

               Information and appliction for the Scholarship for Aboriginal Canadians available here.

The Scholarship for Visible Minorities for $1,500 is open to all visible minority students who plan to enter the first year of a Canadian public post-secondary education full-time in 2016 — 2017 and who are the children, grandchildren or foster children of a National Union of Public and General Employees member. It will be awarded for the best 750 — 1,000 word essay on: The importance of quality public services in enhancing the quality of life of visible minorities.

               Information and application for the Scholarship for Visible Minorities available here.

Download a notice about the scholarships for posting in your work place here.

For further information please phone (613) 228-9800 /  or email [email protected]