BURNABY – Today the BC Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU) publically released its report Collective wisdom: challenges and opportunities in B.C. women’s services. The report describes a sector greatly undermined by inadequate public funding, resource and staffing shortages, troubled working conditions, and a lack of public and government recognition and support for both workers and the women they serve.
“Workers in this sector, which is largely made up of women helping vulnerable women, face significant challenges as client needs become more complex, and workload pressures and service expectations increase,” says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. “With input from workers from across the province, this report demonstrates the urgent need for government to reinvest in vital public and community social services.”
In March, the BCGEU brought together 60 of its members from women’s services for a structured dialogue session on issues facing the sector.
Following these findings, Stephanie Smith has issued letters to Honourable Maryam Monsef, federal Minister of Status of Women, and Honourable Michelle Stilwell, provincial Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation, asking both levels of government to take action to improve women’s services. This includes increased funding for programs and staffing; investment in safe and affordable housing for women and children; development of a new human resources strategy for the sector; and actions to build public awareness and support. Smith has also requested meetings with both ministers to discuss these measures and ways to move forward on the specific findings and recommendations in the report.
Women's services members provide supportive services to other women usually facing serious personal crises, and often gender-based violence. They work in transition houses and victim services, community women’s centres, community outreach programs, and Indigenous women’s support services. They also provide crucial services and supports to a diverse community of vulnerable women, including immigrant and Indigenous women, and other racialized groups.
The BCGEU is one of the largest and most diverse unions in British Columbia with over 72,000 members and represents over 1,500 workers in women’s services throughout the province.
For more information please call Bronwen Barnett, BCGEU Communications (604) 719-4713