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Protrans service reductions and employment – COVID-19 update, April 24

This week your employer provided the union notice that because of COVID-19 related service reductions, Protrans intends to proceed with layoffs. Your union has made its position clear to the employer: they must at bare minimum provide 60 days' notice of layoffs under Section 54 of the Labour Code, and they must meet and attempt in good faith to negotiate an adjustment plan.
While the employer has not yet provided a concrete plan or proposal to the union, please know that you have good language in your collective agreement under Article 13 dealing with layoff process. In addition, the union will be seeking further provisions through the Section 54 Labour Adjustment Process to ensure that the impact on you and your co-workers is minimized, and the best possible deal for you is reached.
We know that this is not welcome news and understand that you will have a lot of questions about details and how this news will impact you. While at this time there are not a lot of answers, other than those provided in the collective agreement, your union will continue to keep you updated throughout this process, and informed when we have information to share. In the meantime, know that your stewards are here to try and help answer your questions.
Wishing that you are all staying well and healthy. 
In solidarity, 
Megan McKinney, 
Staff Representative


EI Factsheet

Revision date: April 14th, 2020


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COVID-19 update Component 10: Your wages and hours – Mar 31

On March 26th SNC-Lavalin, owner of Protrans BC, sent an email to its entire workforce asking employees to take a voluntary reduction in wages or hours for three months as the company deals with the COVID-19 pandemic. This email was sent to you without consultation with the union and therefore without our knowledge. We have taken great exception to this communication and we know our members have as well.

SNC-Lavalin has since retracted their email, but they have now approached the union on the matter. We have written to them strongly objecting to such an initiative. We have also gone ahead and filed the necessary documents with the BC Labour Relations Board to prevent the employer from sending similar communications to members as in our view, this was violation of the labour code and by extension a violation of members' rights.

We reminded SNC-Lavalin that during these difficult times we must be doing all we can to support frontline, essential services workers like yourselves. Your level of dedication in keeping the Canada Line running and helping other frontline workers get to their jobs is invaluable as we work through the COVID-19 crisis. I thank you for your ongoing efforts to provide this vital service.

If you have specific questions about COVID-19, please send your inquiries to [email protected]. If you want to review current information from the BCGEU on COVID-19 please go to our information hub at
In solidarity,
Rory Smith, Component 10 Vice-President


Component 7: Letter from Ministry of Education to support staff

Today the Ministry of Education sent the attached letter regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and the suspension of in-school classes to school district support staff members. Your union encourages you to review this letter as it contains important information on how education partners can continue working together to support B.C. students and protect the health of all British Columbians.

The letter also outlines the ministry's plans to address what comes next at the conclusion of spring break, and what to expect in the weeks ahead. We advise you to follow the direction of your employer/school district and if you are asked to return to work following spring break, please do so. We expect your employer to enforce all social distancing protocols to ensure your safety at work.

Please also note that the right to refuse unsafe work is a legislative right that all workers have in the province of B.C. If you have any questions with regards to your health and safety rights, please contact your steward, your worksite's OHS rep or your nearest office.

If you have specific questions about COVID-19, please send your inquiries to [email protected]. If you want to review current information from the BCGEU on COVID-19 please go to our information hub at

In solidarity,
Cindy Battersby
Component 7 Vice-President

Letter to school district support staff members from the Ministry of Education (PDF)



Component 7 COVID-19 update to members working in post-secondary education

Correction to 'March 23, 2020 Union News,' we apologize for any confusion.

Your union is working hard to support all of its members as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact workers and workplaces in every sector of our economy. To this end we have been working closely with the Post Secondary Employers' Association (PSEA) and coordinating with your employer.

While post-secondary institutions have not been ordered closed by the provincial government, all members who are able to work remotely have been asked by their employer to work from home. Some members will continue to work at their worksites, however all employers are enforcing social distancing protocols to ensure your safety at work. Correction: Members whose roles cannot be performed on campus or remotely will continue to be paid until the end of April at which time the situation will be re-assessed. For auxiliary or contract employees we are reaching out to your employers to get more clarity on what this means for you, and will update you when we have this information.

The right to refuse unsafe work is a legislative right that all workers have in the province of B.C. If you have any questions with regards to your health and safety rights, please contact your steward, your worksite's OHS rep or your nearest office.

Your union will continue to closely monitor the situation and will act decisively based on the best available science and expert recommendations to keep members and staff healthy, safe, and informed. We will also update you on an ongoing basis as the federal and provincial governments respond and adapt and as issues arise for our members.

If you have specific questions about COVID-19, please send your inquiries to [email protected]. If you want to review current information from the BCGEU on COVID-19 please go to our information hub at

In solidarity,
Cindy Battersby
Component 7 Vice-President


Component 4: COVID-19 update for LifeLabs members

This week, LifeLabs has moved to provide PSC and mobile services to patients who screen positive for COVID-19. This includes patients that have tested positive for COVID-19 and screen positive as per the LifeLabs screening process.
We have heard from many members that are concerned about this change, and are worried about their health and safety when serving patients that have screened positive, so we have been in close communication with your employer to discuss this change.
We emphasized that it is critical for employees to receive adequate instruction and training when new procedures are introduced. In particular, this includes new cleaning/ housekeeping practices. We asked the employer how lineups and waiting areas will be managed in order to maintain social distancing. In addition, we made it clear that as some LifeLabs locations are closing or reducing hours, workers moving to new worksites must receive a full safety orientation at their new worksite before beginning work. The employer has committed to providing additional information, and we are awaiting their response. The employer has also committed to providing adequate time for workers to familiarize themselves, practice and ask questions about the new procedures.
It is important to note that the new procedures implemented by the employer involve contact and droplet precautions for interactions with patients. This includes separation and decontamination procedures for patients that screen positive. In addition, aerosol producing tests are not to be completed for patients that screen positive. The procedures implemented by the employer, including PPE requirements, align with infection control guidance from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). As per the guidelines from these agencies, N95 masks are not required in this context.  
We will continue to communicate with the employer about protecting the health and safety of our members at LifeLabs. It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure workers are properly informed, trained, equipped and supervised when working in settings where there’s risk of exposure to COVID-19. The BCGEU expects that the employer will provide timely, specific and clear direction to workers on the infection control protocols they will follow to avoid exposure to the virus. We also expect the employer to ensure there is sufficient Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) on hand for workers, and provide the training to use it.
Workers should always apply a precautionary approach to their work, and consult a supervisor with any questions about protocols or the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). You have the right to express any health and safety concern to your employer, and to expect a response without undue delay.
You can reduce your risk of infection by doing the following:

  • Follow your work site unit or employer infection control policies. If you are unsure about what’s needed, talk to your supervisor, before doing the task you are assigned.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wear the required PPE for “droplet and contact precautions” before interacting with a confirmed or suspected patient.
  • When interacting with a confirmed or suspected patient, ensure you’re wearing PPE including gloves, long-sleeved gown, a mask, and eye or face protection (safety glasses are not adequate).
  • Ask for training or a refresher on how to don, doff and dispose of PPE correctly.
  • If you do not have the PPE you need, stop and speak with your supervisor before proceeding.
  • If your concerns are not resolved, talk to you EHS representative, your shop steward and your Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee representative (where applicable) about next steps.
  • If you think you’ve been exposed, report to your employer immediately, following your incident report process.
  • Stay home if you are experiencing the flu and common cold. This includes symptoms such as a cough, sneezing, fever, sore throat and difficulty breathing.

You are on the frontlines of this crisis, and we recognize and appreciate the tremendously important work you are doing. We will continue to do our part in supporting you during this unprecedented time. 


Component 17: Advocating for you during this crisis

From the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak through the declaration of COVID-19 pandemic your union has been working to protect your health, your safety and your rights while also following the science to stop the spread of the virus.

We support the Provincial Health Officer's decision to close the province's casinos as a necessary measure to protect your physical health and stop the spread of COVID-19 but we understand that move raises concerns about your financial health in this difficult time.

We are encouraged by the federal government's financial aid package, which includes significant changes to expand the scope and availability of Employment Insurance benefits as well as a range of options for debt relief for students, homeowners and others who will struggle to make ends meet as the virus impacts our economy.

Right now we recommend that you should be applying for Employment Insurance (EI) as soon as you can.

On the application under Reason choose Other, and write "Forced Government Closure" on your application.

We expect more COVID response programs and initiatives to be announced by federal, provincial and municipal governments in the coming days and weeks and we will continue to work with our partners in the labour movement to advocate for additional measures to protect the financial health of working people such as a freeze on evictions and rent payments.

COVID-19 is an unprecedented crisis across the world and the situation is changing by the hour. Your union has set up a general information website at - it is being updated regularly with information from your union as well as from employers across BC so check it regularly. We have also set up a dedicated email inbox to address members' questions about the crisis: [email protected].

We will update you as we get more information from your employer throughout the pandemic. In the meantime, I encourage you to follow the recommendations of the Provincial Health Officer, trust the science and listen to expert advice on how to keep yourself, your family and your community safe and healthy. We will get through this together.

In Solidarity,

Stephanie Smith
BCGEU President


Component 5 - Your rights to sick pay & COVID-19 related absences

This bulletin is to remind Component 5 members of your rights to sick pay if you have a COVID-19 related absence. Please print and post in your workplace for your fellow Component 5 members.
The Public Service Agency has issued a FAQ document to direct all public service employers how to respond to sick or self-isolating employees during this pandemic. Please read the attached document here and note the following highlights:

  1. For all employees entering self-isolation following return from travel or who have been medically recommended to self-isolate for 14 days due to possible COVID-19 exposure: 
  • If the employer is satisfied that your work can be done effectively from home, they are to authorize you to work from home
  • If the employer is not satisfied that your work can be done effectively from home, they are to put you on STIIP (Short Term Illness and Injury Plan) for the duration of the self-isolation
  1. For auxiliary employees: You are eligible for weekly indemnity benefits up to a maximum of 15 weeks if you:
  • Are sick with a fever and respiratory symptoms (e.g. cough, runny nose), have no travel history or history of exposure to someone who was ill and travelled, and are not able to work from home
  • Have been medically advised to stay home due to being sick with a communicable disease (COVID-19)
  • Have been given a medical recommendation to self-isolate for 14 days as a precautionary measure because of close contact to a person sick with COVID-19 (spouse or child)
  • Want to self-isolate due to an existing health condition, and has medical documentation

    This is the case for auxiliary employees during this pandemic even if they have not accumulated 400 hours of auxiliary seniority or have lost your auxiliary seniority. In addition, you will not have the one week waiting period. This means you are eligible for weekly indemnity benefits immediately and will receive the benefit as quickly as possible. 

In short, you will be paid (and do not require vacation leave) if you are sick or in self-isolation due to travel or exposure to COVID-19 and are unable to work effectively from home. It is very important at this time that employees who feel unwell stay home and discuss their situation with their supervisor to activate appropriate sick leave.
I encourage you to contact me with any concerns and to visit for updates.
In solidarity,
Kusam Doal
Vice President, Retail Stores and Warehouse Component (Component 5)

Download PDF of COVID-19 public service FAQS