NEWS

April 16, 2018

Honouring killed and injured workers on Day of Mourning – April 28 - BCGEU

In 2017, 158 workers lost their lives to workplace injury or disease. Please join us in honouring their memory on the Day of Mourning, April 28.

Many BCGEU members will be attending Day of Mourning events in communities around our province. Some members will be there to honour and remember their co-workers and family members. Many will be there to show solidarity and empathy for those who have been affected by the death of a worker. 

Experience tells us that every one of these 158 deaths and injuries could have been prevented. There is much work to be done to improve regulatory requirements and enforcement. The BCGEU, along with the BC Federation of Labour and other unions, continue to lobby government and the Workers' Compensation Board (WCB) to increase prevention activities, to write more orders, levy more penalties and launch more criminal prosecutions against negligent employers. 

Every year the BCGEU and Labour Councils organize activities in their workplaces and communities to commemorate April 28. BCGEU members are encouraged to attend Day of Mourning events in their communities. Members are also encouraged to take a moment on April 28 to remember the workers who have lost their lives or have been injured in the course of their workday.

Since 1997, the BC Federation of Labour, the Business Council of British Columbia, and WorkSafeBC have co-hosted a public commemorative ceremony for the Day of Mourning in Vancouver, B.C. In 2001, WorkSafeBC, the BC Federation of Labour, and the Business Council of British Columbia dedicated a permanent workers' memorial in the Sanctuary in Hastings Park, Vancouver.

There are approximately 45 permanent worker memorial sites sponsored by WorkSafeBC in British Columbia.

• For a list of ceremonies taking place in British Columbia on April 27 and 28 visit http://www.dayofmourning.bc.ca/

Download a PDF file of the new Day of Mourning poster here

 



UWU/MoveUP

April 13, 2018

Government to Recognize PTSD & Mental Health Claims for First Responders: Cor...

The BCGEU welcomes the provincial government's announcement that first responders including Sheriffs and Correctional Officers will receive greater access to mental health support. 

On Wednesday, BC Labour Minister Harry Bains announced amendments to the Workers Compensation Act. These amendments -- called a presumptive clause -- will be introduced this week and, if approved by the legislature, will add post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental disorders to a recognized list of presumptive conditions associated with specific types of jobs. This means that when first responders, including sheriffs and correctional officers, who experience job-related trauma are diagnosed with a mental disorder, they will be able to get assistance without providing proof that the injury was related to their work.

"I applaud the proposed amendments to the Workers Compensation Act announced by Minister Bains, building on the work begun by Minister Simpson and supported by Minister Darcy. Making mental health, including PTSD, a presumptive condition is a long overdue show of common sense and compassion for first responders," said BCGEU president Stephanie Smith.

Seven other provinces and territories in Canada, including Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario, already have a presumptive clause to protect first responders suffering from PTSD and mental illnesses. "This change is an important step but there is more work to be done to protect the men and women that protect our province. So while we recognize and appreciate progress, it's critical that we also stay focused on the road ahead," added Smith.

BCGEU would like to acknowledge the work of long-time BCGEU member Robert Gagnon, whose efforts helped make this possible. Gagnon, a Corrections Officer and Canadian Forces veteran, walked from Prince George to BC's Legislature last summer to raise awareness and support for veterans and first responders who suffer from PTSD. 

"It's important to stay focused on how this change happened. Make no mistake, we are here today because of the efforts of activists. Activists like Robert and everyone else who raised their voice, told their story, and kept the pressure on in their own way. Activists make a difference. I'm lucky to be surrounded and inspired by them every day," said Smith.
 

Background


Read the government press release here.

Hansard script (recognizing the work of Correctional Officer Robert Gagnon):

Hon. H. Bains
I'm really pleased today to recognize a number of first responders seated in the gallery. Gord Ditchburn, of the B.C. Professional Firefighters Association; Cameron Eby, Robert Parkinson, Sophia Parkinson and Lindsay Kellosalmi, from the Ambulance Paramedics of B.C.; Jeremy Kerr, who's a sheriff; and Dean Purdy, who's a corrections officer. 
Joining them is a special guest, another corrections officer who some of you may remember from last summer. Robert Gagnon has been called "the man who walked through the flames for PTSD" - and indeed he did. Robert is a former corporal with the Canadian Armed Forces, who now works as a corrections officer for Prince George.
 
Following his military career, Robert found himself struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, and through his own struggles, he became aware of how many others, including first responders, were also needing services and support. He decided to do something about it, and last summer, Robert set off on the journey of his life, as he walked solo from Prince George to the front steps of this building to raise awareness around PTSD.
 
He reached Victoria on July 25, after walking about 30 kilometres per day. Along the way, he raised funds to help support an equine therapy ranch for veterans in Quesnel and a facility in Kamloops that works with first responders and veterans with PTSD.
He's here to see some of the fruits of his labour, as we make an announcement related to supporting those kilometres per day.
 
Along the way, he raised funds to help support an equine therapy ranch for veterans in Quesnel and a facility in Kamloops that works with first responders and veterans with PTSD.
He's here to see some of the fruits of his labour as we make an announcement related to supporting those who develop mental disorders as a result of trauma in their workplaces. I thank him for his tireless efforts and wish him all the best as he travels the road to recovery. Would the House please join with me making him and all other heroes in the gallery very welcome.

Photos from Wednesday's event at the Legislature:

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UWU/MoveUP

April 13, 2018

Government action for renters and tenants a welcome relief in middle of housi...

VANCOUVER –

This week the government of British Columbia announced new initiatives to strengthen protections for renters. BCGEU welcomes these long overdue changes, and applauds the government for continuing to take initiative on the housing file.

"Increasing protections for those facing eviction is an important step in making B.C. more affordable for renters," noted BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "The new provisions will provide tenants more time to dispute evictions, and the new penalties for landlords who exploit the rules will greatly improve accountability. These are all good concrete steps to protect vulnerable renters."

New relief for renters in British Columbia is much-needed. Many families have been at the mercy of an overheated housing market. Low vacancy rates and underfunding of the Residential Tenancy Branch have made living in B.C. more expensive, housing situations precarious, and assistance hard to access.

These actions are a clear sign that political leaders are starting to respond to the public desire for an affordable British Columbia. Hundreds of thousands of British Columbians are counting on Premier John Horgan and his ministers to stabilize their housing situation and they should be encouraged by these actions. 

"We look forward to the implementation of the changes announced, and the work of the Province's new Rental Housing Task Force. We recognize the importance and timeliness of the work of the task force, and look forward to establishing a dialogue in the coming weeks and months to support action on affordability." said Smith.

The BCGEU, in cooperation with CUPE 1767 has been advocating for strong action on housing through the Affordable BC campaign. Released in November 2017, Affordable BC, is a plan to address speculation and invest in neighbourhoods to solve the affordability crisis. Thousands have already signed online in support of the plan to tackle the housing crisis. Full details of the plan are available at www.affordablebc.ca

The BC Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) represents information and administrative workers at the Residential Tenancy branch as well as more than 74,000 workers in more than 550 bargaining units throughout British Columbia. 

 



UWU/MoveUP

April 12, 2018

BCGEU and B.C. Government to begin bargaining new contract for members in the...

The BCGEU has accepted an offer from the B.C. Government to begin negotiations aimed at concluding a new collective agreement with members in the B.C. public service.

The existing contract between the BCGEU and the B.C. Government expires on March 31, 2019. It covers roughly 27,000 employees in the public service around the province.

"We're pleased to begin the bargaining process now," said BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "It will give us sufficient time before the expiration of the existing contract to address the long-standing issues we've been raising with government in the four years since we negotiated our last contract. We want to improve services through the bargaining process."

The BCGEU has been preparing for a return to the bargaining table since late last year to identify priorities through member surveys, bargaining meetings and conferences as a part of the normal process in the lead up to the agreement's expiry.

Component bargaining will commence on April 30, 2018, with negotiations on the main agreement beginning May 7, 2018.

We'll post more information as it becomes available. Please make sure your contact information is up-to-date and correct by visiting: https://my.bcgeu.ca/login.

 

Ask your co-workers to do the same.



UWU/MoveUP

April 10, 2018

April 12th Jersey Day - BCGEU

Staff and the Senior Leadership at the BCGEU will be wearing their jerseys to show support and respect for the Humboldt Broncos on Thursday, April 12 2018. We hope you do too!

 



UWU/MoveUP

April 09, 2018

‘Honeymoon phase is over’ at Okanagan Correctional Centre - BCGEU

"The honeymoon phase is over."

That's the sentiment of Dean Purdy, head of the B.C. Government Employees Union's corrections division, but it appears to apply beyond staff at the Okanagan Correctional Centre.

Official complaints filed by inmates against the jail nearly doubles that of any other jail in the province.

 

 

Read more...



UWU/MoveUP

April 04, 2018

BCGEU welcomes 75 new members in seniors’ care delivery - BCGEU

The BC Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) welcomes 75 new members following a merger between two seniors' care facilities in Greater Victoria. On April 1, 2018 Rest Haven Lodge, which will continue to operate 73 residential complex care beds for seniors in Sidney, merged with Broadmead Care Society where the BCGEU already represents over 400 workers. 

"Broadmead Care Society is a non-profit organization with a community-first approach and an excellent reputation in seniors' care delivery," says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "We are pleased to welcome our new members under Broadmead's umbrella and look forward to supporting them in the important work they do in their community."

The BCGEU represents over 16,000 workers in various health care sectors. To read more about the merger click here

For more information contact Bronwen Barnett, BCGEU Communications, 604-719-4713



UWU/MoveUP

March 29, 2018

BCGEU brings 15 recommendations to labour code review panel, calls for fairne...

The BC Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) president Stephanie Smith meets today in Surrey with a special government panel reviewing B.C.'s labour laws to call for changes that reflect the needs and interests of B.C. workers.

Representing over 75,000 workers from nearly every economic sector in B.C., the recommendations in the union's submission to the panel are based on three themes:

 

1. That workers be entitled to make their own internal decision to unionize without employer pressure;

2. That workers be entitled to fairness, timeliness and finality when it comes to labour decisions; and

3. That the labour code be responsive to the erosion of workers' rights in the modern economy due to more precarious, part-time, contract and contingent employment.

 

"The labour code is a significant piece of legislation that informs both how B.C.'s workers organize to join unions, and how unionized workers and their employers interact," says Smith. "This review is a good first step in the process of restoring fairness to both the labour code and the BC Labour Relations Board."

The labour code review panel is holding public hearings in 10 B.C. communities from now through mid-April, and the panel will report its findings and recommendations back to Labour Minister Harry Bains by August. The labour code has not been reviewed or amended in 15 years.

BCGEU's submission can be downloaded here: https://tinyurl.com/yc9oslpw

For more information contact Bronwen Barnett, BCGEU Communications, 604-719-4713



UWU/MoveUP

March 22, 2018

Public Service Pension Plan Update - BCGEU

Dear BCGEU Public Sector Pension Plan Member,

We understand that the recently announced changes to the Public Sector Pension Plan (PSPP) design have generated a lot of concerns. Many have indicated to us the communication from the Pension Corporation left them wondering how the plan impacted them, which has created anxiety and confusion. In this environment, serious misinformation has circulated that misrepresents the plan changes, especially on the @work site.

The only way to determine exactly how these changes impact you as an individual will be to wait for the pension plan calculator. Respectfully, please do not try to calculate changes for yourself. We are urging Pension Corp to advance the timeline on the pension calculator, and add a comparator to the old rules, which will show the specific improvement.

Because several of the plan design changes work differently for service after April 1, 2018, there is some confusion about the Bridge, the Rule of 85, and if the changes will impact your ability to retire. We hope to explain broadly how the changes work, why they occurred, and to correct some of the speculation happening amidst the confusion.

The vast majority of plan members will see a great improvement in their pension, but each member's specific situation is unique.

For the average BCGEU member, the value of the pension will increase substantially.

The average age of retirement in the plan is over 60. Approximately 59% of BCGEU plan members earn under the YMPE ($55,900 in 2018). The majority of members retiring both above and below age 60 will still be able to retire with a higher lifetime pension based on the new rules. Further, for an average BCGEU member, even one wanting to retire at 55, if you are able to retire in the next few years, your lifetime pension will be significantly bigger.

Similar rules have already been adopted by the College and Teachers Pensions Plans

Both of these large public sector plans have moved to a flat rate of accrual on future service, and have eliminated the rule of 85 and bridge on future service. This is a trend because moving to a flat rate of accrual modernizes the plan and makes it more equitable. This provides a superior lifetime benefit.

The new rules apply to future service (after April 1, 2018) only.

That means if you have accumulated 20 years of service prior to April 1, 2018, you will get a bridge benefit when you retire, based on those 20 years of service. If you retire before you turn 60, the reduction factor of 3% for each year between 55 and 60 will apply to those 20 years. The old rules apply to old service and the new rules only apply to new service.

On Future Service, your pension's potential value will be much larger.

In practical terms, on service after April 1, 2018, the value of a lifetime pension for someone making $55,900 or less (under the YMPE) will be approximately 37% more. That number slightly reduces the more you make over the YMPE. For example, someone making $84,000 will receive approximately 18%* more on their lifetime pension.

We have guaranteed a retroactive increase to the value of your pension back to 2006.

This increases your accrual below the YMPE from 1.35% to 1.65% retroactively between April 1, 2006 and March 31, 2018. For the average BCGEU member retiring in the next decade, this will represent a greater than 12% increase in the value of their lifetime pension.

The large majority of BCGEU members, including those retiring before the age of 60, will be able to retire at the same age with a higher lifetime pension.

The new rules provide for a larger lifetime pension for members. What this means practically is that, in the majority of cases, members retiring under the age of 60 have a larger lifetime pension than they would have under the old rules.

The new plan design minimizes the subsidy from those who can't afford to retire, and makes the plan more fair.

The new early retirement reduction factor of 6.2% is benefit neutral – which means it is approximately the value of the benefit one gets from early retirement. This change in the new rules makes the plan more equitable. On future service, it means those retiring early will pay their fair share.

Plan changes were requested by the Board on a tight timeline.

Some of you are concerned with the lack of communication prior to implementation of the plan changes. We want to assure everyone this was not by design, and we are committed to identifying gaps in communication from Pension Corporation and working with them, and independently, on a go-forward basis.

We were unable to conduct consultation prior to implementation due to a tight timeline. Faced with the potential of the Board making changes to plan design without input from us or the government, we opted to move quickly. We consulted with senior elected leadership and came to an agreement with government that secured the best outcome possible. The fact we achieved a significant retroactive benefit increase on service back to 2006 – even for members who have already retired – shows a high degree of success in this regard.

For further questions, please contact the BC Pension Corporation.

You can reach them at 1-800-665-3554.

 

*please note the following correction was made to the original posting, updating the percentage rate to 18% for this example

UWU/MoveUP