"Minister Bains just announced amendments to Bill 9 that will extend occupational disease and personal injury presumption to wildfire fighters — a long-overdue and hard won recognition of the technically, physically, and mentally challenging work that they do every day to protect lives and property across the province." — Stephanie Smith, BCGEU President
Burnaby (15 April 2019) — On April 11, 2018, Stephanie Smith, the President of the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE), stood on the steps of the legislature as Harry Bains, the Minister of Labour, introduced amendments to Bill 9, the Workers' Compensation Amendment Act, that extended and expanded "presumptions" for work-related illness and injury.
BCGEU/NUPGE fought to include wildfire fighters in legislation
The amendments were great news for many first responders, including BCGEU/NUPGE members in Component 1, but there was a critical oversight — BCGEU/NUPGE wildfire fighters were excluded.
The exclusion was based on the false belief that the conditions that wildfire fighters face every day are less hazardous to their physical and mental health and safety than the conditions faced by their urban counterparts.
The BCGEU/NUPGE leadership got to work to correct this false belief and make sure the government afforded wildfire fighters the support and recognition they deserve — the exact same support and recognition afforded to their urban counterparts and first responders in other professions.
Massive win for BCGEU/NUPGE members
A year later, the efforts of the BCGEU/NUPGE paid off. Minister Bains just announced amendments to Bill 9 that will extend occupational disease and personal injury presumption to wildfire fighters — a long overdue and hard — won recognition of the technically, physically, and mentally challenging work that they do every day to protect lives and property across the province.
The BCGEU/NUPGE extends a thank you for all that the union's wildfire fighters do to keep families, homes and communities safe, and for all that was done this past year to protect and preserve their own health and safety. Special thanks goes out to Gary Horsman and the component leadership in Component 20 for fighting so hard to achieve this goal. Smith also recognized the great work from the staff in BCGEU'S Research and Interactive Services department, particularly the outstanding research done by Megan Scott that was the foundation of this successful campaign.
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