The 58th convention of the BC Federation of Labour will take place at the Vancouver Convention Centre East from November 26-30, 2018.
To register, submit resolutions, and for more information, visit the convention website.
BCFED President Irene Lanzinger will speak at a rally Monday afternoon in downtown Vancouver to support 50 Canada Line cleaners who are at risk of losing their jobs because of contract flipping around the provision of cleaning services at stations along the line.
Lanzinger will urge the provincial government to close loopholes in the provincial labour code that allow employers to use contract flips to terminate workers with hard-won collective agreements in order to keep wages and benefits low.
The workers—who are members of the Service Employees International Union Local 2—are at risk of losing their jobs because the private operator of the Canada Line, the multinational SNC Lavalin, has flipped the cleaning contract to a new cleaning company.
Closing the loopholes and extending what’s called successor rights to workers who are affected by contract flips is a major demand that the labour movement is advancing through the provincial government’s labour code review process to level the playing field for working people in BC.
The rally is set for 3:45 pm on Monday, September 17 at the Vancouver City Centre Station, Georgia and Granville in Vancouver.
Working people and their families will be celebrating in communities across the province this Labour Day long weekend. It’s the end of summer, and the one day in the year where workers’ contributions to our economy, our social well-being and our communities are recognized.
Thousands will be participating in labour-organized events at picnics and rallies in communities across the province. In the Lower Mainland, many union members will spend the day at the PNE fair with their families—where they’ll be joined by Premier John Horgan.
For me this Labour Day is dedicated to two struggles—one where working people are on the picket lines fighting for fairness and respect at work, the other for better employment standards protections to safeguard vulnerable workers from exploitative employers.
In Kamloops, Kelowna, Penticton and Vernon some 700 casino workers will be walking the picket line on Labour Day, with the same determination and commitment as they’ve shown every day since they went on strike at Gateway Casinos on June 29. The members of the BC Government and Service Employees Union are seeking a living wage, better working conditions, and respect on the job.
There’s no disputing the gaming industry is extremely profitable. But two weeks ago, when I walked the picket line with striking workers in Kelowna, I heard stories about those who have worked for Gateway for eight years and still make minimum wage. In a province as rich as ours where so many struggle to make ends meet because of the high cost of living, that’s unacceptable.
Meanwhile, disturbing allegations have recently been made about how vulnerable workers at two Subway restaurants were cheated out of stat holiday pay and overtime that they worked. There are also allegations that staff—many of whom are new Canadians—faced bullying by their employer.
These complaints are now being investigated. And to his credit, new labour minister Harry Bains is urging workers to come forward and lay complaints. But the challenge in winning justice is that current employment standards laws are rigged against workers, an injustice that Bains says he’s eager to change.
Why? Because the BC Liberals significantly weakened basic protections that safeguarded workers, cut back on enforcement, and tied the hands of government officials so that they couldn’t proactively investigate violations.
The labour movement in BC has a proud tradition of fighting to improve wages, conditions and protections for all workers—including those who aren’t currently union members. A recent example is our Fight For $15 Campaign where we successfully mobilized support to give BC’s lowest paid employees a raise by increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour—a move that will benefit close to 500,000 workers.
We believe that improvements to basic employment laws to better protect workers are long overdue. That’s why these changes are a key element in our new Level the Playing Field Campaign launched earlier this year, which also includes calls to:
• restore fairness and balance in the labour code to remove the barriers imposed by the BC Liberals for workers to join unions to improve wages and conditions;
• make our workplaces safe and improve workers’ compensation payments for those who are injured or killed on the job; and
• provide better access to apprenticeships and training to address skill shortages and ensure opportunities for future workers.
Our proposals for employment standards reforms focus on ensuring that all workers have access to paid sick leave. It might come as a surprise to many but as the law stands now, a worker can be fired for being sick.
We recently surveyed more than 1,300 workers in BC on the topic of sick leave. Nearly half the workers we heard from do not have access to paid sick leave. Many of these were younger, part-time and lower paid employees who simply can’t afford losing pay because of illness.
The absence of any paid sick leave requirement means when workers are ill, most of them go to work. And it’s not just that they need the income to make ends meet. We found that many aren’t permitted to take an unpaid sick day unless they can find someone else to cover their shift.
Forcing workers go to work sick is bad for all of us because it reduces productivity, lengthens recovery time, makes others sick and can even put people’s lives at risk. We call for paid sick days to be made available to all working people in the Employment Standards Act.
Our new NDP provincial government has made a number of important commitments that will improve the lives of working people in BC. We believe that can be accomplished through better employment standards, safer workplaces, fairness and balance in labour laws, and better access to apprenticeships and skills training programs to create more opportunities for good-paying work. We need to level the playing field for workers sooner, rather than later.
-Lanzinger is President of the 500,000 member BC Federation of Labour
Come out and enjoy family and friends on Labour Day 2018.
For a full list of Labour Day events throughout BC, click here.
Vancouver - With millions of Canadians unable to afford to pay for vital prescription drugs to keep them alive and healthy, the BC Federation of Labour says it’s time for concerted national action through the cooperation of all federal, provincial and territorial governments to address a growing crisis.
“Canada is the only developed country in the world with a universal health care program that doesn’t include universal prescription drug coverage,” says BCFED President Irene Lanzinger. “And everyone here knows someone who isn’t able to afford to take their medication as prescribed.
“The facts are clear about the magnitude of the problem,” says Lanzinger. “About one out of three working British Columbians—close to 800,000 people—lack employer-funded prescription drug coverage.
“BC also has the highest percentage of precarious, low-paying part-time workers of the major provinces. The inequality gap here between the rich and the poor is staggering, and it puts the high cost of many prescription drugs beyond the financial reach of hundreds of thousands more workers.”
Lanzinger says the BC labour movement believes one option stands out as the best path for change. “A single-payer, universal prescription drug plan would ensure that no matter where Canadians live and work, everyone with a health card would have coverage for their prescription medications’” she says.
This evening a special federal advisory council chaired by Dr. Eric Hoskins, will hold a community consultation on a national prescription drug plan in downtown Vancouver, which Lanzinger will be attending. The Federation outlined its recommendations in a letter sent to the council today.
We are well in to the Pride Season in BC; and as we gear up for the Vancouver Pride Parade this Sunday, we turn our minds to the recent local and international events that have shaped the global discourse on LGBTQ issues.
We continue to work as a labour movement to make our organizations, workplaces, and communities safer for LGBTQ community members; and we realize that the very people who started pride have been largely left out of this picture, especially BC.
Pride, which was started by an uprising against police discrimination by trans women of colour at the Stonewall Inn in 1969, has largely forgotten the communities that stirred its origins almost half a century ago.
As we attend events in the community this year, we pay special attention to the voices we hear who tell us they do not feel safe.
We honour the voices of Muslim, Trans, Black, Indigenous and People of Colour in the broader LGBTQ community and recognize that we have not achieved victory as a society until all of these people feel safe to express themselves fully. We have not achieved success until all of these community members, including two-spirit and intersex people are able to fully exercise their rights.
As we position ourselves in Canada and in the province of BC to be a safe haven for LGBTQ community members fleeing persecution in their countries or origin, we must do the work to ensure that Canada is truly a safe space for these community members when they arrive. We cannot save people to place them into a society that oppresses them.
The BC Federation of Labour and its 500,000 members continues to learn from the people who make up the movement of working people in this province, and we take our lead from the voices who face the most oppression on hold true to our values this pride season and always: What we desire for ourselves, we wish for all.
Unions are leading the fight for a universal prescription drug plan for Canadians. Sign the CLC Pharmacare petition.
The BC government announced this morning a first step series of measures that will modernize the taxi industry and lay the ground work to introduce ridesharing services at a later date.
“Generally, these are positive moves,” says BC Federation of Labour President Irene Lanzinger, “and a good first step to improve existing services for passengers as the government moves to fulfill its promise to introduce ridesharing services under a level playing field down the road.”
- Improve service by increasing the number of taxi licenses by 15%.—that means 300 more cabs in the Lower Mainland, and 200 across the rest of the province;
- Allow the taxi industry to offer fare discounts when trips are arranged through a booking app; and
- Create a database to help identify demand issues and generate solutions and require taxi companies to collect and share a broad range of information.
Next on the government’s agenda is developing a framework that will allow ridesharing services to operate in BC. The framework must include measures to protect the safety of passengers and drivers, and create a level playing field for the traditional taxi industry and ridesharing multinationals.
The BCFED wants protections for all drivers included in the framework to create good paying stable jobs rather than adding to the crisis of precarious work. Lanzinger says workers must be classified as employees not independent contractors, be protected by a modernized Employment Standards Act, paid at least the minimum wage, and covered by the Canada Pension Plan and Employment Insurance at a minimum.
National, Provincial and Territorial Labour Leaders encourage Canada’s Premiers to unite behind a universal, single-payer, public prescription drug coverage program. In addition to giving every Canadian access to life-saving prescriptions, a universal Pharmacare plan will free up money for much needed investment in health care.
Saint Andrews, NB - During the Council of the Federation meeting in Saint Andrews, NB, Labour leaders from across the country united to deliver a message to Canada’s Premiers – collaboration is critical.
“Canada’s Premiers will soon be asked to support a Pharmacare plan built on a simple principle - equal access. No matter where in Canada you live, you should be able to access the medications you require to live a healthy life,” said Irene Lanzinger, President of the British Columbia Federation of Labour (BCFED).
Between 2006 and 2015 Canada wasted $62 billion health care dollars without a Pharmacare plan. We waste $7.3 billion a year, or $14,000 every minute of every day, monies, that with an additional $1 billion investment in public sector spending could be redirected within our health care system.
“The research is clear; a national Pharmacare plan could save British Columbians $1.14 billion per year. Think of the potential investment to be made in British Columbia’s health care system with a savings of that magnitude. The benefit to the people of British Columbia is enormous. $415 million could be allocated to help seniors, providing six million more public home care visits, that is nearly 16,243 more seniors who would receive daily homecare visits per year,” said Lanzinger.
“With another $415 million, we could build 78 more community health centres, providing 390,000 more British Columbia residents with high quality integrated care that would respond to both their physical and mental health needs. A $51 million investment could provide 850 more public long-term care beds per year in our province, and with the remaining $258 million, British Columbia could hire additional nurses and health care workers, invest in hospitals, put an end to hallway health care. Think of the impact and net benefit to British Columbia with those additional investments in Canadians health and well-being,” Lanzinger added.
Without Pharmacare, between 370 and 640 Canadians with ischemic heart disease prematurely lose their lives, every year. Between 270 and 420 working-age Canadians with diabetes die prematurely every year, the data suggests that between 550 to 670 older working age Canadians (55-64) die each year, before their time.
“Without a universal single-payer Pharmacare plan - up to 70,000 Canadians suffer avoidable health decline and hospitalization every year. That’s roughly the population of Prince George. Imagine if the entire population of Prince George was unnecessarily hospitalized every year, we would demand preventative measures from our government. Universal Pharmacare is that preventative measure, and we’re demanding action from our governments,” said Lanzinger.
Every developed country with a universal health care system provides universal coverage of prescription drugs – except Canada. In a country like Canada, no one should be forced to skip their medications or otherwise ignore their doctor’s orders because of costs. Doing so only leads to additional pressures on our health care systems, and that costs everyone more in the long run.
“The only plan that will deliver better health outcomes, while saving Canadians money, is a universal single-payer Pharmacare system,” said Hassan Yussuff, President of the Canadian Labour Congress.
In addition to urging that Premiers to support a universal Pharmacare plan, of which the federal advisory council is expected to make recommendations on how to implement, Presidents of provincial and territorial labour federations highlighted for Premiers the need and importance of strengthening the relationship with labour in their communities.
To build inclusive, strong and prosperous provinces, we must collaborate to support the most vulnerable among us. We must also work together to develop poverty reduction strategies that include a recognition of the needs for a living wage, decent working conditions and access to affordable housing.
Together, Canada’s provincial and territorial labour federations give voice to over three million workers, represented by the Alberta Federation of Labour, British Columbia Federation of Labour, Canadian Labour Congress, Manitoba Federation of Labour, New Brunswick Federation of Labour, Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour, Northern Territories Federation of Labour, Nova Scotia Federation of Labour, Ontario Federation of Labour, Prince Edward Island Federation of Labour, Fédération des travailleurs et travailleises du Québec, Saskatchewan Federation of Labour and Yukon Federation of Labour.
Vancouver - June 21st is National Indigenous Peoples Day. This is a day that is meant to acknowledge and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples.
For the last 21 years Canada has celebrated National Aboriginal Day. Now we celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day. On June 21st, 2017 Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the name change to better reflect support of the United Nations Declaration of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). The document emphasizes the right of indigenous peoples to live in dignity; to maintain and strengthen their own institutions, cultures and traditions; and to pursue their self-determined initiatives.
UNDRIP was developed over twenty years and was adopted by the UN General Assembly in September, 2007. Since then the document has become a point of political promises in federal and provincial elections and was officially adopted by Canada on May 10, 2016.
Shortly after the 2015 federal election, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett pledged that the new Liberal government would implement UNDRIP as part of its effort to rebuild its working relationship with Indigenous peoples in Canada.
BC Premier John Horgan has committed that his government will work to implement UNDRIP at all levels. We have seen him take action through the hiring of a special advisor to work in his office and advise him on UNDRIP and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 calls to action.
On the other hand, the federal Liberal government is in many ways showing that their support of UNDRIP is little more than lip service to Canada’s Indigenous communities.
The rushed and poorly administrated National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls is an example of how the Liberal government wants to be seen to be taking steps toward implementing UNDRIP but is unwilling to do the real work required to accomplish that implementation.
As union members on mostly unceded territory in BC, there are many things we can do to practice reconciliation. The first is by electing governments that are serious about implementing UNDRIP. The second is by reading UNDRIP and the TRC’s 94 calls to action and choosing calls that we can implement in our own communities and unions.
The #next150 challenge is an accessible resource that can help activists at any level move through understanding UNDRIP and the 94 calls to action. It also provides links to many other campaigns and resources that exist for education on Indigenous rights. https://next150.indianhorse.ca/challenges/94-calls-to-action
It is all of our responsibility to ensure that UNDRIP and the TRC’s 94 calls to action are implemented in the land that we occupy. Only with all of our efforts together will we achieve a conciliatory relationship with Indigenous communities.