Join us as we mark the 40th anniversary of this important day with a day-long online event. We'll bring together injured workers, their family members and advocates for a panel discussion, an update on the Injured Workers Deserve Better campaign and a presentation on mental health followed by small group discussions.
Injured Workers Day is an important annual milestone to highlight the ongoing fight for the restoration of dignity, respect and justice for injured workers.
- JANET PATTERSON
Retired Lawyer, Adjudicator & Labour Educator
- KEVIN LOVE
Lawyer, Worker Advocate
- SARAH O'LEARY
Lawyer, Worker Advocate
Please register at tinyurl.com/injuredworkers2023. You'll receive a link to join the event after you register.
We mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia 2023 during an especially difficult year for 2SLGBTQIA+ people around the world.
We've seen a growing number of hateful incidents. Thankfully, we've also seen strong community responses — and BC's unions have been proud to join them.
None of us should have to live in fear or face hatred and violence because of how we love each other or who we are. Hate has no place in our unions, workplaces, communities or province. Today and every day, we stand with 2SLGBTQIA+ people everywhere.
The BCFED released the following statement on the Day of Mourning for Persons Killed or Injured in the Workplace:
April 28 is a sacred day for working people: we remember those we’ve lost, and those who have been injured or made sick, because of their work.
Last year, 241 British Columbia workers lost their lives as a consequence of their jobs. That number is the highest it has been in a decade. And it signals that in too many workplaces in this province, the lives and safety of working people are not a priority.
Not two days go by in our province without another British Columbian dying because of their job. And that doesn’t include the many workers killed by the drug poisoning crisis — at the end of a cycle of substance use that began with pain from a workplace injury.
Asbestos remains the leading workplace killer in British Columbia — an insidious killer that still strikes workers down decades after exposure.
Here, though, there has been welcome progress, with last year’s announcement of employer licensing and worker certification. We’ve seen crucial improvements in other areas as well, including the workers’ compensation system last October.
But we still have a long way to go. We urgently need to bring all workers under WCB protection and coverage, and strengthen prevention, inspection, enforcement, investigation and penalties. Changes are long overdue to treat psychological and physical injuries with the same high standard of access, respect and dignity, and to ease the struggles injured workers face as they return to work. And as recent events remind us, we must address the epidemic of workplace violence.
These actions and more are crucial to upholding the fundamental right of every worker to come home at the end of their day as safe and healthy as when they left.
When we in the labour movement say “Mourn the dead, and fight for the living,” we are expressing two faces of the same idea. Our grief and pain spur us to speak out and take action. And through our voices and through that action, we honour the memories of the people we’ve lost.
Today, and every day, we mourn the dead. And we fight for the living.
(Unceded Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam territories — Vancouver, BC) A poll conducted by Research Co. for the BC Federation of Labour shows overwhelming support among British Columbians for ensuring app-based gig workers receive basic employment protections.
Conducted between April 15–17, the poll found:
- Nearly three-in-four British Columbians (74%) believe workers for companies like Uber and DoorDash “definitely” or “probably” should be covered by protections like the minimum wage, overtime pay, paid sick days and workers’ compensation.
- An even higher number, 80%, believe these companies should pay into programs such as workers' compensation, the employer health tax, employment insurance and the Canada Pension Plan, the same way other employers have to.
- Only 28% of respondents support paying workers only for the time they spend actively transporting a customer or making a delivery — the position the companies are lobbying for. Support for paying workers for all the time they spend working outnumbers them nearly two to one.
"With every one of these questions, the strongest support comes from the same group most likely to be customers: young adults,” said BCFED President Sussanne Skidmore.
“There’s no ambiguity in these results. It’s time the BC government took the actions needed to ensure app-based gig workers get the same protections the rest of us count on.”
Methodology: The sample comes from an online panel. The Research Co. poll contacted 807 adult residents of British Columbia, weighting results for age, gender and region. The results have a margin of error of ± 3.5%, 19 times out of 20.
Background: Research Co. research factum for survey conducted April 15–17, 2023
The BC Federation of Labour today released the following statement:
We condemn the callous, dehumanizing tactics used by Mayor Ken Sim’s administration in forcibly dismantling encampments in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Their actions will do nothing to address the needs that have given rise to these encampments and will instead inflict misery on some of our communities' most marginalized residents and expose them to even greater dangers. The greatest impact will be felt by Indigenous and racialized people, those facing accessibility barriers, trans and gender-diverse people, and others over-represented in poverty and homelessness.
As the BC Human Rights Commissioner has made clear, while nobody would claim encampments are acceptable alternatives to housing, forced dismantling only serves to scatter residents to new encampments or more dangerous situations. The Federal Housing Advocate has rightly called their dismantling a “serious violation of human rights.” Unhoused people should be able to count on their governments and police alike to protect their rights and dignity — including the fundamental human right to housing.
We also recognize the impact this profoundly misguided action will have on workers — including those who were assigned to that work and who had no legal capacity to reject it, and those whose work includes facing the ensuing surge in demand on health and community services.
We call on the City of Vancouver to immediately halt dismantling encampments and we call on all levels of government to recommit to a trauma-informed, human-rights based approach, and to bring new urgency to the work of ensuring quality supports, services and spaces are available to provide safe, dignified housing for all who need it.
(Unceded Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam territories — Vancouver, BC) Today’s minimum wage increase announcement will give BC’s lowest-paid workers a much-needed raise, and help them keep up with the cost of living, said BCFED President Sussanne Skidmore today.
“Every extra cent makes a difference to minimum-wage earners. Inflation has hit necessities like groceries especially hard, so it’s heartening to see our government act to prevent the cost of living from eroding workers’ wages,” Skidmore said.
“BC is one of the most expensive provinces in Canada,” she added, “so it makes sense that we continue to have the highest minimum wage of any province. But we still have a lot of work to do to close the gap between the minimum wage and the living wage,” the amount a family needs to cover basic expenses.
BCFED Secretary-Treasurer Hermender Singh Kailley commended the government for tying the minimum wage to inflation. “Kevin Falcon’s Liberals froze the minimum wage for a decade and never caught up, letting workers fall further and further behind — the same workers who could afford it least,” he said. He added the increase will be especially helpful for racialized workers, Indigenous workers and women, who disproportionately work in low-income positions.
Skidmore urged the government to extend minimum wage protection so it covers all workers. “No matter where you are in BC, you should be able to earn a wage that can let you live and work in your community,” she said.
The BCFED’s multi-year Fight for 15 campaign united labour, community organizations and workers to make a successful case for increasing the minimum wage, culminating in BC becoming the first province with a minimum wage above $15 in 2021. Last spring, the provincial government announced it would tie the minimum wage to inflation.
The BC Federation of Labour today released the following statement on the International Transgender Day of Visibility from BCFED President Sussanne Skidmore:
Today, we celebrate transgender people: as coworkers, friends, neighbours, family, leaders and members of our community. And we celebrate the courageous work of generations of transgender activists and their allies. In the face of hatred, scorn, violence and unjust laws, they have fought so that more and more trans people can step forward and live as their whole selves.
This act that so many of us take for granted in our own lives — of being seen for who we are — means the world. And it can make a life-saving difference for young transgender people looking for signs they aren’t alone, and that their lives and identities have just as much value as anyone else’s.
Change cannot come quickly enough, but it has been coming. We welcome the many initiatives from the BC government to fight hate and discrimination in our province, and to end its own exclusionary practices — most recently, leading the country in systematically removing outdated gendered and binary language from provincial laws. And the adoption of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity curriculum resources in our schools has helped a new generation of British Columbians to erase ignorance and better understand the rich gender diversity of humanity.
But today’s celebration happens amidst a rising, orchestrated campaign of hate and disinformation about transgender people. And as the recent report from the BC Human Rights Commissioner makes clear, hatred has been especially toxic when it is directed against those with intersectional identities. Being visibly trans should never mean incurring the risk of abuse and violence, but that is the reality faced by far too many trans people. It’s encouraging to see so many in our community rise in support against that hate; we’ve been proud to join them in solidarity.
We know there is more that BC’s labour movement can do to support trans people, especially transgender workers, and lift up their voices. Our most recent convention removed gendered language from our constitution, and expanded gender parity language for officers’ seats to include two-spirit, transgender and gender-diverse workers. We overwhelmingly passed a resolution encouraging our affiliated unions to negotiate workplace protections for trans workers, as well as paid leave for gender-affirming care. And today, we’re launching a page of resources for transgender workers, including examples of contract language.
So while today is set aside for celebrating transgender visibility, our solidarity with transgender workers and gender-diverse people carries on throughout the year. As the BCFED’s first out queer president, I’m proud to say to transgender people throughout British Columbia and around the world, we see you, we celebrate you, and we stand with you in solidarity.
The BCFED released the following statement today on March 21, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination:
More than six decades after the massacre in Sharpeville, South Africa — the event today commemorates — we continue to see the injustice and pain caused by racism. We know only too well that it doesn’t have to be as overt and explicit as apartheid to do its damage, and that its harm cascades down through many generations.
Recent headlines underscore how far we have yet to come in British Columbia, from the racist and violent acts against members of Indigenous and racialized communities. The BC Human Rights Commissioner’s report on hate showed appalling spikes in hate during the pandemic, particularly anti-Asian hate, especially against those with intersecting identities.
That report made it clear that words can never be enough. We need coordinated action, drawing on community-level strengths and experience — action to fight hate, and action as well to bridge gaps and resolve injustices. Our province is making important progress with measures like the Anti-Racism Data Act, the Declaration Act Action Plan, pay transparency and more. There is more work to do.
From intersectional, effective pay equity to educational curriculum changes… from permanent resident status for all migrant people to deepening our commitment to reconciliation… British Columbia must engage relentlessly to heal both the historic legacy and the present-day realities of racism and discrimination.
Labour has our own work to do and relationships to deepen with Indigenous, Black and racialized communities. We took an historic step at our last convention, ensuring our officers include representation from racialized and Indigenous workers.
Today, we recommit to stand in solidarity with all those who face racial discrimination and injustice in British Columbia, across Canada and throughout the world. None of us may rest until racism is truly a thing of the past.
This year's Regional Conference will be in person, held in beautiful Prince George on June 9-11.
For more information, please visit our conference website.
The BC Federation of Labour today released the following statement:
We are calling on Vancouver City Council to immediately reverse their appalling decision to abandon the city’s five-year-long status as a living-wage employer.
The ABC Vancouver majority have announced that they will no longer pay their lowest-paid, most precarious workers enough money to afford to live in Vancouver. They are telling the people who help keep Vancouver running that their labour may be welcome, but they and their families are not. It’s an insult to the value of their work and a callous attack on their ability to make ends meet.
With affordability far outweighing every other issue on British Columbians’ minds right now, this announcement marks these councillors as spectacularly out of touch — by design, apparently, since the decision was made behind closed doors, without consultation. To any councillor who believes the living wage should be based on a “five-year rolling average,” we invite them to find a single landlord, grocery store, dentist or pharmacy prepared to offer working people those same terms.
Vancouver has led by example for the past five years, providing a model for employers throughout the city and beyond. At a time when the cost of living has risen so sharply, this is a breathtaking abdication of leadership. With tough economic times on the horizon, these councillors have cast votes in favour of deliberately increasing poverty.