December 05, 2017

National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women - BCGEU


December 6: 


National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women

December 6th is a dark day in our country’s history. It marks the anniversary of the 1989 École Polytechnique Massacre in Montreal, in which 14 women were singled out for their gender and killed.

The 14 women slain in this horrific act of misogyny and gender-based violence were Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, Annie Turcotte and Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz.

Now known as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, December 6th is commemorated every year in Canada and is often marked by candlelit vigils and other events.

“Today, let’s all take a moment to remember not only the young women killed in Montreal, but all women whose lives have been lost to violence,” said Stephanie Smith, BCGEU President. “Together, we must all take action and get involved to help eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls.”





Here are some events happening around BC:


  • A Dinner Educational: Taking Action Against Violence against Women (New Westminster)


  • Cowichan Women Against Violence Candlelight Vigil


  • Richmond Vigil: National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women


  • Surrey: Heart to Heart – Violence Against Women


  • Surrey: End Violence Against Women 7th Annual Candlelit Vigil



The Facts:


Here are a few statistics from the World Health Organization and the Canadian Women’s Foundation:


  • Approximately every six days, a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner.
  • Aboriginal women are killed at six times the rate of non-aboriginal women.
  • 67% of Canadians say they have personally known at least one woman who has experienced physical or sexual abuse.
  • On any given night in Canada, 3,491 women and their 2,724 children sleep in shelters because it isn't safe at home.
  • Global estimates published by WHO indicate that about 1 in 3 (35%) of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime.
  • Globally, as many as 38% of murders of women are committed by a male intimate partner.
  • Violence against women – particularly intimate partner violence and sexual violence – is a major public health problem and a violation of women's human rights.




Battered Women’s Support Services:

Canadian Women’s Foundation:









December 05, 2017

BCGEU welcomes wildfire review - BCGEU


BCGEU welcomes wildfire review


The BC Government and Service Employees' Union welcomes the BC government's announcement of an independent review of wildfire and flood response today.

"Our members, who provide on-the-ground emergency fire and flood response across the province, are happy to hear that the government has initiated a review of the catastrophic natural events of the past year," says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "We look forward to engaging with the independent review panel, to make suggestions on how to improve the province's response to these events going forward."

"We have some of the best frontline staff in the province and the country," says BCGEU Environmental, Technical and Operational component vice president George Buis. "I know they will share their experiences and lessons learned from this flood and fire season to help our future response efforts. We welcome the opportunity to contribute to this work."

BCGEU members provide direct wildfire protection services across the province, as well as provincial emergency response services to British Columbia communities.




December 01, 2017

Ministry resources new Overdose Emergency Response Centre, more staff to step...

Victoria – Today the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions announced an escalation of their emergency response to the overdose crisis. To deal with the deepening crisis across the province, the government is setting up a centralized Overdose Emergency Response Centre to coordinate a response to the overdose crisis that spans the province.

“Seeing the government move forward with creating new full-time jobs to tackle this crisis is an extremely welcome development” said Stephanie Smith, BCGEU President. “Up until now, the response to the overdose crisis has fallen disproportionately on front line workers and members of the community who have stepped up in compassionate response. With a new comprehensive approach to resourcing the response there is hope we can start to turn the corner on the crisis.” 

The new response centre will have a $6 million annual budget through to 2020. This will assist, among other things, in bringing together the many different public actors that have been dealing with issues related to the crisis, including: provincial ministries, health authorities, municipal and Indigenous governments, and law enforcement. 

In the last year there have already been over 1100 overdose related deaths linked to fentanyl. The crisis has left families and communities trying to heal from the anguish of losing loved ones, as well as many workers in government agencies and front-line community services with serious trauma related to their work as first responders in many overdose cases.

Over the last twelve months, the BCGEU has consulted with members across the province to hear about how the crisis is affecting them, in particular, the mental health impacts for front line workers who act as first responders.  A small number of those stories have been shared with the public at

“The experience of our members, many of whom have been working as de-facto first responders, has been instrumental in helping us understand the cumulative impacts of this crisis on our communities and the networks of organizations and agencies that support them,” said Smith. “We will continue to support the fine work of members through the new emergency response centre, and where appropriate, seek to provide expert advice to the Ministry through the newly implemented structure.”

The BCGEU is British Columbia's fastest growing union, with more than 73,000 members working in direct government service, the broader public sector and private service sectors. 


November 28, 2017

Sacred Water Ceremony - BCGEU

National Aboriginal Peoples Circle
Vancouver Island Human Rights Committee

Presents a


According to Vice News Canada, as of July 31 2017, there were a total of 121 First Nations under 172 drinking water advisories across Canada.


Join Todd Smith, PSAC A/Regional Executive Vice-President, and Sussanne Skidmore, BCGEU Executive Vice-President, and stand in solidarity with Indigenous people.

Walk with us in a …


To be held on the traditional lands of the Coast Salish Lekwungen – Songhees & Esquimalt First Nations


  • Start at 1:00PM, Douglas Street at Dallas Road
  • End at 4:30PM, Victoria Inner Harbour
  • Speakers and reflection along the route
  • Full itinerary and details at
  • More information at

Sacred Water Itinerary 

Sacred Water Ceremony Poster 



November 28, 2017

BCGEU launches housing affordability plan - BCGEU

Following the launch of a campaign on housing affordability earlier this month, the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) has released a report detailing recommendations on how the province can solve the housing affordability crisis.

The Building an Affordable B.C. report provides recommendations aimed at tackling the root of the housing crisis: speculation on the part of financial institutions and wealthy investors in the housing market.



November 21, 2017

On the National Inquiry into into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and G...

On November 1, 2017 the commissioners for the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls released their interim report, Our Women and Girls are Sacred. As an organization with standing in the Inquiry, the BCGEU has carefully reviewed the 118-page report which clearly demonstrates the enormous scope of the Inquiry.

The report includes some very startling statistics – Indigenous women are 12 times more likely to be murdered or go missing than any other group of women in Canada, and 16 times more likely than Caucasian women. Intimate partner violence rates are also higher with 52 per cent of those reporting fearing for their lives.

The report also asserts that providing and adequately resourcing early intervention programs and supports within Canada's justice system, child welfare systems, hospitals, and prison systems – as well as tackling systemic discrimination – is crucial to ending violence against Indigenous women and girls, and to help heal the wounds of colonization.

Despite the breadth of this report, it is concerning that there is very little discussion on the perspectives of Indigenous LGBTQ, non-binary and Two-Spirited people. Further, media attention around the report's release has been limited and has focused mainly on the recommendation that a police task force be created immediately.

There is much criticism as well from family members, Aboriginal leaders and organizations asking that the Inquiry be restarted. It is understandable that there would be criticism but it is also important for there to be solidarity for those that are participating and telling their stories.

In September, BCGEU Executive Vice-President Kari Michaels travelled to Smithers to join the Tears for Justice anniversary walk and had the opportunity to attend an Inquiry hearing. "It was incredibly important to me that I was able to attend one of the hearings as a witness to the truth-telling and healing process for the families who shared their stories of the devastating impact this had on their lives," said Michaels. "The process of reconciliation and decolonization requires us (non-indigenous people and specifically white people) to hear hard truths, to share the pain that has been felt by so many in our communities, and to move forward with a deeper understanding and relationship – that means showing up and listening. If you have the chance to attend it is absolutely necessary to go to these hearings."

Themes that have arisen from hearings and meetings held so far – including racism, addictions, child and family services, poverty, family violence, lack of trauma supports, gangs and human trafficking – are all themes our members have identified in BCGEU reports such as Collective Wisdom: Challenges and Opportunities in B.C. Women's Services, as well as in Closing the Circle: a case for reinvesting in Aboriginal child, youth and family services in British Columbia.

BCGEU members throughout the province have front-line experience, knowledge and expertise on the issue of violence against Indigenous women and girls. This is why it is so important for the union to support and contribute to this Inquiry so we as Canadians can put an end to the violence, and ensure that no more sisters are lost.

The union expects to submit its report to the Inquiry in Spring 2018.

November 20, 2017

­­B.C.’s fastest growing union launches housing affordability plan - BCGEU

­­B.C.'s fastest growing union launches housing affordability plan



Following the launch of a campaign on housing affordability earlier this month, the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) has released a report detailing recommendations on how the province can solve the housing affordability crisis.


The Building an Affordable B.C. report provides recommendations aimed at tackling the root of the housing crisis: speculation on the part of financial institutions and wealthy investors in the housing market.


The report's recommendations include three broad goals:


  1. Reforming property taxes to target speculators and raise funds for affordable housing and infrastructure.
  2. Amending legislation to protect renters and better regulate real estate transactions.
  3. Investing in new affordable public housing and infrastructure.


This report is part of a larger campaign by the BCGEU to tackle housing affordability in B.C. Two weeks ago, the union launched, which includes a petition calling on Premier John Horgan to implement these recommendations. The petition has over 1,800 signatures as of November 20.


"Every day more and more BCGEU members find it increasingly difficult to live in their communities," says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "The rising cost of housing is forcing many to leave their communities, while others are leaving the province altogether. We need to do something before our communities are hollowed out."


B.C. has become the most expensive province to buy or rent a home in Canada. The average home price in B.C. is now close to $694,000. While the crisis is felt most acutely in B.C.'s largest cities, this crisis is affecting communities across the province.


Earlier this year, Vancouver was named North America's least affordable city, ranking above cities like San Francisco and Manhattan. The median home in Vancouver now costs 17.3 times the median annual household income.


At the BCGEU's 50th Constitutional Convention in June, members passed multiple resolutions calling for action on housing affordability, and this campaign was developed and launched as a result of that action.


"Wages can no longer keep up with the rising cost of living," says BCGEU treasurer Paul Finch. "No realistic wage increase can make up for the extra costs our members are paying in housing, which means that the most effective way for BCGEU members to protect their incomes - and those of all working people - is to work towards the stabilization of housing prices and creation of more affordable rental units."


The full report can be downloaded at


For more information contact Bronwen Barnett, BCGEU Communications | e: | c: 604-719-4713





November 18, 2017

Human Rights Commission - BCGEU

As you may be aware, the province has been undertaking steps to reinstate the BC Human Rights Commission. The BCGEU is pleased to hear that the provincial government is taking this step and that the province has called on all British Columbians to engage in the process by sharing their thoughts and opinions on what the commission should look like.

The BCGEU has developed a submission that brings the voice and experience of the union to the process. You can read our official submission here.

On November 14, 2017, BCGEU President Stephanie Smith and Executive Vice President Sussanne Skidmore (Chair, BCGEU Equity and Human Rights Committee) met with Parliamentary Secretary for Sport and Multiculturalism Ravi Kahlon to provide our submission as part of the consultation process and to discuss key priorities.

During the meeting, the importance of maintaining the independence of the commission was strongly communicated by the union so that future governments cannot dismantle it (as was done by the previous Liberal government in 2002). Some of the other key priorities identified by the union include: 

  1. Ensuring that the commission provides broad education about human rights. In the past, lack of education has prevented many British Columbians from coming forward. The new commission should also be a centre for research on human rights.
  2. Incorporating the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as well as the findings from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission when dealing with Indigenous issues.
  3. Providing the power and ability to audit organizations, offer education, advocate for human rights, and undertake public inquiries. 

In the view of the BCGEU, advancing these priorities is essential for creating a commission that is adequately empowered to advocate for and protect the rights of individuals, communities, and workers. We look forward to the reinstatement of the commission and hope that the recommendations by the BCGEU are considered in establishing a successful new human rights body for British Columbians. 


Download BCGEU Human Rights Submission as pdf

November 09, 2017

BCGEU out of gate early with public service bargaining conferences - BCGEU

VANCOUVER – The B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) is ramping up pre-bargaining efforts by conducting bargaining conferences this week, even though most collective agreements aren't set to expire until 2019.

Delegates from across the province gathered in Vancouver to hammer out bargaining priorities for upcoming negotiations, which are expected to take place in the new year.

"A year and a half may seem a long time, but there are important issues that require urgent attention," says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "British Columbians can't wait a year and a half for real solutions."

"There are so many priorities that need immediate attention – from enhancing child protection services identified in the Plecas report, to solving recruitment and retention issues across key sectors, and ensuring adequate resources for people affected by the opioid crisis. We have an opportunity to address the erosion of public services, and we're eager to get to work."

Members from across the public services sector have expressed concern that 16 years of restraint have eroded wage parity with the private sector, leading to serious recruitment and retention issues in key areas.

"Unfilled vacancies, unsustainable workloads and uncompetitive wages have created a siege mentality in many workplaces," says Smith. "Social workers, sheriffs, corrections officers and community social service workers are just a few areas that need immediate attention."

The BCGEU is British Columbia's fastest growing union, with more than 73,000 members working in direct government service, the broader public sector and service sectors in British Columbia.