BC FORUM News
BC FORUM message about the closure of
Service Canada’s offices
BC FORUM is continuously following up on issues that affect our members and their families in these uncertain times dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
We know that the decision made by Ahmend Hussen, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development to close Service Canada Centres to walk-in traffic is something that may well have critical impact on you.
BC FORUM’s 1st Vice President, Sam Wiese, is a retired Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) member from the Canada Employment and Immigration Union (CEIU) component. Some of you know she worked at Service Canada predominately in Employment Insurance. After speaking with the National Executive of CEIU, Sam has provided the attached information which we wish to share with you. ·
I expect that you are all aware of the fact that Service Canada Centres closed to walk in traffic on Friday, March 27. While the initial media reports issued by Ahmed Hussen, the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development suggest the Canada Employment and Immigration Union (CEIU) made a hasty decision to coax their members to utilize the provisions of the Canada Labour Code to refuse dangerous work, this is far from fact.
Representing the Federal Employees working in Service Canada Centres, Crystal Warner, National Executive Vice President of CEIU, made requests of the Minister to address steps that could be taken to ensure the safety of workers while maintaining service to the public.
Contrary to an acknowledgement that the Ministers Office had received her letter of March 16, 2020, concerning the safety of front-line workers, on March 19, Minister Hussen told CEIU National President, Eddy Bourque, “No one from CEIU has contacted my office! Why do you want to speak with us??” This, during a period of time when CEIU members were being verbally and physically threatened, coughed on, shoved, had chairs thrown at them, and fights erupting between exasperated clients.
As all of us in the Union movement are aware, the withdrawal of work is one of the most powerful tools in our collective tool belts. Most often, this action is in the form of a strike due to bargaining impasses. It is indeed telling of the environment when an employer is either so blind or uncaring of the situation faced by its employees that those workers are forced to invoke their duty to refuse dangerous work.
CEIU members have a long history of providing efficient, quality service to Canadians and during this COVID-19 pandemic they are not refusing to provide us service, they just wish to be able to do so in a manner that keeps us, our families, them and their families safe and healthy.
Service will continue for all Canadians. Very importantly, arrangements will be made to provide in-person service for those who are unable to access the applications or required service via telephone or on-line.
For those applying for benefits the best way to apply is still on-line, with information, including applications for Employment Insurance, Canada Pension, Old Age Security, and the Guaranteed Income Supplement, are available here: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits.html.