BCGEU applauds new agency to make work safer for health care workers

“With this foundation, I expect to see the agency develop robust best practices to make the industry safer.” ― Stephanie Smith, BCGEU President

Vancouver (12 Dec. 2019) ― The B.C. Government & Service Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE) applauds the B.C. government's commitment of $8.5 million over 3 years to build an independent provincial occupational health and safety agency to address the high rate of injury in the health care sector.

"The BCGEU represents thousands of front-line health care workers who too often risk their own health and safety in the course of their work," says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "This new agency will change that and it's just one more example of how this government is making life better for working people."

Working group recommendations endorsed by the Ministry of Health

As part of the most recent round of public sector collective bargaining, the need for a provincial effort to combat rising rates of injury and make workplaces safer was identified. As the lead union in the Community Bargaining Association (CBA), the BCGEU/NUPGE worked alongside other stakeholders in the Provincial Framework on Occupational Health and Safety in Health Care Working Group to develop a report and recommendations to create the new agency. These recommendations were endorsed in their entirety by the Ministry of Health.

"This work also reflects a strong consultative approach on the part of government to involve those with front-line knowledge of these issues, and a commitment to taking action based on those consultations," says Smith. "With this foundation, I expect to see the agency develop robust best practices to make the industry safer."

BCGEU/NUPGE will continue role as stakeholder

The working group will now turn to the work of establishing the new agency including appointing a board of directors, strategic planning, and creating policies and procedures. Through the CBA, BCGEU/NUPGE will continue its role as a stakeholder in the establishment of the agency and will hold one of 6 Worker Director seats on the board once appointed.

BCGEU/NUPGE represents thousands of health care workers from community home support for seniors to those impacted by mental health and substance abuse issues or facing addictions in the community.

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE