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These last few months have been a reminder for me that change truly is the only constant. From a PEA perspective, we have welcomed a diversity of new members and made changes to our association governance. Staff have been busy updating our website platform and preparing for a strategic planning session this fall. From a personal perspective, it has been a whirlwind —from the incredibly damaging impacts of the wildfires on friends and family to a steep learning curve in my new role as the Range Stewardship Officer for the Ministry of Forests.
These changes are all on my mind. Please know that the PEA has donated in support of the wildfire recovery. As I mentioned in my message this summer, I continue to extend my thanks to colleagues in the Government Licensed Professionals chapter and the BCGEU who continue to support the emergency wildfire response efforts.
On July 14, Bill 5 came into force amending the Public Service Labour Relations Act. This resulted in approximately 300 lawyers—who work for the BC Government and support ministries in their interpretation and delivery of legislation— becoming part of the Government Licenced Professionals (GLP) chapter.
Represented by the BC Government Lawyers Association (BCGLA), this group of lawyers had been trying for many years to form their own independent union and to have their own collective agreement. With the passing of Bill 5, the PEA was made the official bargaining agent for these lawyers, with exclusive legal rights to bargain and represent them in all labour relations matters.
Throughout June and July, the PEA and the BCGLA exchanged proposals with the BC Public Service Agency (BCPSA) in the hopes of negotiating a transition agreement. This agreement would clarify the terms and conditions of the Government Lawyers when Bill 5 took effect, and they became part of the GLP bargaining unit. The negotiations have been unsuccessful.
Once Bill 5 came into force, the BCPSA unilaterally imposed transition measures on the Government Lawyers, setting out their terms and conditions of employment. The PEA has been seeking recourse through grievances and other legal mechanisms to challenge the transition measures. Later this year, the PEA will be negotiating their agreement, which will form part of the PEA 17th Main Collective Agreement and could be called a subsidiary or component agreement, or potentially a letter of agreement.
In terms of governance, the lawyers are now a sub-chapter of the GLP with a leadership structure that sits within the chapter. We are also exploring ways to make sure the lawyers have representation at the PEA association executive level and at the bargaining table.
To better support the Government Lawyers and our newest bargaining unit, Pearson College, the PEA is hiring additional staff, including a Labour Relations Officer.
We welcomed the teachers at Pearson College to the PEA in June, after membership cards were signed by an overwhelming majority of teaching staff. Pearson College is a two-year pre-university school in Metchosin on Vancouver Island—one of 18 schools and colleges in the United World Colleges movement. The 24 new members at Pearson College teach a range of subjects including climate action, biology, chemistry, English, philosophy, French, history, mathematics, physics, and Spanish.
They will begin collective bargaining this fall, using the power that comes with union membership to secure a first agreement that ensures fairness, equity, and a real voice in the workplace.
In September, 17 paralegals working at the Law Society were officially certified by the Labour Relation Board to join the Law Society Lawyers chapter.
Please join me in welcoming the Government Lawyers, Pearson College members, and Law Society paralegals to the PEA.
In a soundproof recording studio, an 11-year-old boy inspects the professional equipment: the condenser microphone, headphones, monitors, and specialty software.
He is dreaming of what is possible; mapping out his return to the studio with his instruments and plotting his first recording—he’ll use it to study his sound and hone his craft.
The recording studio is surrounded by a hive of activity. Budding illustrators use graphic design programs to produce digital art. Amateur genealogists make digital copies of precious family records. Scrapbookers manipulate laser cutters to make precise shapes for paper crafts. Career-oriented young adults take courses on LinkedIn Learning. And older adults new to technology practice downloading e-audiobooks and digital newspapers.
The best part? It’s all free with a library card.
A fundamental reason libraries have existed for centuries is to provide equitable access to information and knowledge which, today, extends beyond what is conveyed in print or even words.
“Libraries are adding technology because a lot of folks can’t afford to purchase expensive equipment,” explains Kristy Hennings, PEA member and branch head of the Okanagan Regional Library’s Vernon branch. “No matter who you are in the community, you can access this equipment, and we can share it.”
The technology available in libraries today is thanks to a larger shift Kristy has been part of throughout her 25 years in the sector.
At the beginning of her career, in the early 2000s, the concept of “community-led libraries” rose to the fore across Canada.
“Instead of being prescriptive and saying, ‘this is what the library does,’ we go to the community and ask: What are you missing in the community? What do you want to learn about? What kind of spaces are you looking for?” Kristy explains.
For example, a commitment to meeting community needs led to the launch of the Vernon branch’s recording studio and makerspace, the Inspiration Lab. Since it opened in 2021, use has “gone through the roof,” she says.
Success of that kind comes from truly listening to what people need and want.
“What do you need help with in your life? What could I do to help? Do you need access to computers, help filling out forms, training for daycare workers and early childhood educators?” Kristy asks, demonstrating the kinds of questions that characterize the library’s community-led approach.
“Any gaps in the community that need filling, that the library can help fill, we jump in,” she adds.
Kristy built her experience in a range of library positions—library assistant, children’s librarian, youth services librarian, and reference librarian. After completing a theatre degree at the University of Victoria in 1998, Kristy started in a clerical role at the Vancouver Public Library (VPL).
“I loved it,” she recalls. “I’ve always been a huge reader. I made jokes when I started that I only wanted to work there because staff didn’t get late charges (on overdue material),” she laughs. “I had already accrued $80 in late charges in the month and a half before I got hired.”
She felt so at home in the world of public libraries she enrolled in the Master of Library and Information Sciences program at the University of British Columbia to become a librarian. In June 2005, the day after she finished the last class of her master’s degree, she launched her career as a full-fledged VPL librarian, focusing on children’s literacy.
One of her first projects was to find families with children ages 0 to 5 who were not using the library—and discover how the library could serve them.
“I worked with new immigrant non-profits and BC Housing to do programming for kids in housing developments,” says Kristy. “Any time there was a place where people might gather, we would go out and try to find those folks.”
In 2009, Kristy and her husband moved to Vernon. With two young children at home, Kristy took a position as a part-time reference librarian, working mainly with adults for the first time in her career. She found joy in that position for more than six years, particularly enjoying building relationships with the nearby Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB).
When she stepped into the role of branch head in 2018, Kristy continued to focus on developing relationships following the same community-led philosophy that has guided her career.
Any gaps in the community that need filling, that the library can help fill, we jump in.
“It’s really fun to work with the staff to create a really great work environment and then to work with the community to find out what they need,” Kristy says. “We’re a smaller community so the library is a really big, important part of it.”
The collaboration with OKIB continues, too, as she commits to developing trust on the road to Reconciliation.
“A goal for me is that we make the library a space safe and that we give the service the OKIB community would like to have from us,” she says.
Strong relationships are key to making the library safe for and responsive to all users.
“Part of what I love about public libraries is that it’s a neutral space for the entire community to get together,” says Kristy. “You have elderly folks, babies, teenagers, folks from all different economic and cultural backgrounds. And that means you have folks who are unhoused and who use substances, all sharing the space together.”
To maintain a safe and respectful environment in the branch, Kristy has established three core rules of library use: “You can’t sleep; you can’t use drugs on-site; and you have to be respectful to other people and staff.
“If all those happen, you are welcome in our space,” she says. “I don’t care if you have all your worldly possessions with you, you haven’t had a shower in two weeks, and you have nowhere to live and you’re a drug user, you are as welcome here as any member of the community. And we’re going to do anything we can to help get you connected to whatever you need.”
To support library users through the opioid crisis, Kristy’s staff are invited to attend Naloxone training if they wish (all have agreed and done so). Naloxone is distributed in the branch, thanks to a partnership with Interior Health.
Offering these services at the library is another way the library delivers on its promise to be there for the community and to respond to its needs.
“People just want to be in a safe space; they don’t want to scare or embarrass people,” she says. “Anyone can come hang out as long as they want. When it’s super cold or when it’s hot, or when there’s smoke and ash in the air, it’s a safe place to come.”
Kristy’s strong commitment to the community led her to become active in union work early in her career. Since joining the PEA in 2009, she has played an role on the Okanagan Regional Librarians chapter executive on which she is currently vice-chair and serves on the bargaining committee, which is heading into negotiations in December.
The philosophical alignment between libraries and unions is clear to Kristy.
“(Unionship) aligns with my values around equity and access and wanting the best for our communities,” she says. “Whether it’s within a work environment for my fellow workers or as a librarian, I would much rather see everyone do well and be in a position where they’re feeling healthy and safe and can thrive.”
Libraries are a great equalizer. When libraries are supported, people are supported, and when people are supported, lives—and community—change for the better.
Kristy urges everyone to give their public library another try.
“We have a crazy amount of resources; I think people don’t realize how many. It’s not just books and magazines: E-resources are bananas, streaming films, music, LinkedIn Learning, Rosetta Stone, PressReader, digital audiobooks and ebooks,” she lists enthusiastically.
“If you haven’t been to your public library in a long time, head on down and check out what they’ve got going on.”
You’ll see what she means. The doors open, and inspiration begins when you step inside.
The disruption caused by climate change is undoubtedly the greatest challenge we are currently facing. In a world where energy demand continues to increase and we need to move away from fossil fuels to reduce CO2 emissions, the transition to carbon-neutral, renewable forms of energy supply is a priority. Renewable technologies rely on the availability of metals that are found in rocks deep within the earth. That’s where mining becomes a key aspect of the green energy revolution, as it is through mining that these metals can be made available to build solar panels, wind turbines, batteries, electric cars and electricity grids.
Canadian companies have a large presence in the global mining industry, with operations in more than a hundred countries and a combined market capitalization of $520 billion. Nearly half of the publicly listed mineral exploration companies in the world are Canadian.
Mining operations have undeniable adverse effects on the environment: they cause disturbance on the land and wildlife habitats, and generate tailings and waste rock that, if not properly managed, can contaminate streams, wetlands and aquifers. Mining activities are also associated with various health risks and safety hazards. The Canadian Critical Minerals Strategy released in 2022 was designed to advance the standards of practice for health, safety and environmental protection in the mining of critical minerals needed for a low-carbon, electrified future.
In alignment with the federal government, British Columbia is also taking strides to advance sustainability in the mining industry. In 2019 the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation (EMLI) established an internal Mine Audits Unit to support the continuous improvement of mining oversight in the province. The Mine Audits team conducts audits to identify areas for improvement in the mining regulatory framework, with the goal to support the global competitiveness of mines in BC while ensuring high standards of health, safety and environmental protection. The audit reports and the ministry’s response to the audit recommendations are publicly available on the EMLI website.
In fall 2022, Sarah Alloisio, a member of the PEA GLP Chapter, joined the Mine Audits Unit, bringing with her technical and scientific knowledge gained from over 20 years of experience working in the mining sector.
Originally from Milan, Italy, Sarah earned a PhD in hydrogeology from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom. She and her husband, who is also a hydrogeologist and whom she met while working with a mining water consulting company in England, spent eight years working on mining projects in North and South America before transferring to Vancouver in 2008 to work with Schlumberger, a global service provider to the oil, gas and mining industry.
A decade later, Sarah left the world of consulting and joined the public sector, accepting a position as a hydrogeologist with BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy (ENV). Based at the Ministry’s Surrey office, her job involved conducting technical reviews of the hydrogeology aspects of Environmental Management Act and Mines Act permit applications for large mining projects.
After three years, Sarah moved to a Senior Project Lead position in the Major Mines Office of the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation (EMLI). In this role, she led multi-Ministry (i.e., involving EMLI, ENV and the Ministry of Forests) permitting processes for large mining operations and had the opportunity to work closely with federal agencies and First Nation governments.
“Being part of the journey towards reconciliation by contributing to the development of meaningful relationship between the Major Mines Office and First Nation governments has been one of the most rewarding parts of the job”, Sarah says, explaining that EMLI is also working hard to ensure mining companies engage closely with First Nations from the early stages of mining exploration.
Now based in the Mine Audits Unit, Sarah is working to help improve the mining regulatory framework, to ensure the health and safety of mine workers and reduce the adverse effects of mining on the environment. It’s an ideal role for Sarah, whose love for natural environments was cultivated through childhood hikes in the Italian Alps.
An avid outdoorsperson, she enjoys hiking, canoeing and backcountry camping with her husband and daughter. Her love of the outdoors means she’s committed to protecting it.
We need to preserve the natural environment of British Columbia.
“Our natural environment is not only an economic resource, but also a source of enjoyment, it’s part of our heritage and plays a big role in our quality of life” Sarah says. “We need to preserve the natural environment of British Columbia not just for British Columbians but for everybody worldwide, and not only for our current benefit but for that of future generations, too.”
To date, the Mine Audits team has completed two audits. The first audit, which was completed in 2021, examined recent revisions of the regulation pertaining to mine tailings storage facilities. The second audit investigated existing regulatory requirements related to the protection of workers operating mobile equipment near water and was completed in 2022.
Sarah is leading one of the four audits that are currently in progress, which examines how the regulatory framework around financial bonding for mining exploration programs may be improved, to ensure that mining exploration companies address the environmental impacts caused by their activities once the programs end. Another audit Sarah is working on focuses on the regulation around the closure and land reclamation of mines once they stop operating.
British Columbia is home to a large mining industry comprising several major mines that extract gold, silver, copper, critical metals and coal mines that extract the coke coal used in the production of steel, such as those located in the Elk Valley in Southeast BC.
Mining is a major source of revenue for the province and is rapidly growing. In 2022, the industry’s contribution to the BC economy grew to $18 billion from $12.6 billion the previous year, an increase of 40 per cent. Overseeing the industry as it evolves and expands comes with challenges for the BC government, requiring an approach that must look to the future while also addressing the legacy of historic mines that have not been properly reclaimed.
Sarah explains that the Mine Audits Unit and the role of the Chief Auditor were created in response to the BC Auditor General’s 2016 report on Compliance and Enforcement of the mining sector, which highlighted the shortcomings of the then Ministry of Energy and Mines and the Ministry of Environment in their ability to minimize the environmental risks of mining to the province. During the course of this audit the province experienced its worst environmental accident in the history of mining in BC: in 2014, the tailings dam of the Mount Polley copper mine, near Williams Lake, breached. The accident resulted in the release of 23 million cubic metres of mine waste into Quesnel Lake, Hazeltine Creek and other area waterways. An investigation into the accident found the province to be partially responsible, as it did not exercise sufficient regulatory oversight of the mine.
Events like the Mount Polley dam breach have affected the public confidence in the government’s ability to manage our natural resources. According to Sarah and others involved in mining regulation, a part of the problem lies with the current professional reliance model used in the Natural Resource Ministries.
Introduced in the early 2000s at a time when government was looking for ways to reduce the size of the public service, professional reliance refers to a system whereby government staff review permit applications by relying on the assessments prepared by external consultants paid by proponents, and often also rely on reports prepared by external consultants hired by permittees in the verification of compliance with permits and regulations. This professional reliance model can work effectively, but only if there is a sufficient number of government staff with the technical and scientific expertise required to critically assess the studies and reports prepared by external consultants. The reduction in the number of technical and scientific staff in the BC Natural Resource Ministries over the years has diminished the government’s ability to conduct technical reviews of permit applications in a timely fashion and to carry out adequate compliance activities, such as site inspections.
In 2018, thanks to pressure applied by the PEA, the province commissioned a review of the professional reliance model in the BC Natural Resource Ministries, which generated more than one hundred recommendations. These recommendations included the enactment of the Professional Governance Act (PGA), a new legislation that regulates professional governance in the public and private sector, and the creation of the Office of the Superintendent of Professional Governance, which is charged with overseeing the governance of regulatory bodies under the PGA.
The PEA and the Public Service Agency agreed to create a joint Professional Reliance Task Force in 2019 to develop specific measures for improving the professional reliance model in the Natural Resource Ministries. Sarah is the Chair of the PEA-side of the Task Force.
Mining in BC has come a long way since the days of the gold rush in the mid-19th century. Driven by the green energy revolution, governments and industry are more focused than ever on more responsible and environmentally sustainable mining for critical minerals.
Extracting minerals from the earth is not a renewable industry, but is currently the only option to access metals in the quantities required to meet the rapidly growing demand. As Sarah says, “It took millions of years for metals to concentrate in large quantities within mineral deposits. When metals are mined and used to make cars and electronic devices, they get distributed in very small quantities stored in millions of electronic products spread around the world. It’s very hard to recover and reuse the metals from the tons of electronic waste we generate every day.”
Sarah does not think mining will ever reach the point of having a negligible impact on the environment, but she is optimistic about the possibilities for making the industry cleaner and reducing its environmental footprint.
“I’m passionate about environmental protection, and this job allows me to work in an area where there’s a lot of potential to improve the way mining is done,” she explains. “There are potential great benefits to be gained by improving the regulation. That’s what motivates me.”
 The Canadian Critical Minerals Strategy: Powering the Green and Digital Economy for Canada and the World (Ottawa: Natural Resources Canada, 2022)
 Nelson Bennett, “Economic Impact of Mining in British Columbia,” Mining.com, May 23, 2023.
Our first major face-to-face event since 2019—the PEA Education Conference in April—was a resounding success. We had a solid turnout at the Inn at Laurel Point in Victoria. Both as the chair of the PEA Education Committee and also as a participant, it was refreshing to be part of something so grand and social.
The conference theme was ‘reflect and revitalize’, with educational offerings focused on equity, diversity, and inclusion. Members, visiting from all over BC, spent two full days learning, and in some instances unlearning in order to feel stronger and more supported to handle these topics in our professional and personal lives.
I enjoyed being part of the diverse, energetic, and enthusiastic crowd. For me, some of the most memorable moments were:
• The opening dance and dedication by the traditional Kwakwaka’wakw Le-La-La Dancers—this performance was inspirational to watch and established an upbeat tone for the conference.
• Alden Habacon’s opening keynote—an interactive and engaging presentation called Reflect and Revitatlize in a Regenative Workplace. His two-part workshop on Active Bystander Training and Receiving Feedback with Grace left me with many actionable tools for self-improvement. Alden is one of Canada’s leading diversity and inclusion strategists. His teachings felt so relevant and important given all the changes we we are facing in the workplace and in our communities.
• Len Pierre’s keynote presentation, Two-Eyed Seeing, was incredibly impactful. He discussed Indigenous cultural advocacy and allyship. One of the stories he told about acknowledging emotions really stuck with me. Often in meetings with the Chief, people would become emotional, sometimes to the point of tears. The Chief would respond with gratitude, thanking them for “bringing water to the circle”—such a simple but effective way to lead and make people feel comfortable. Len is Coast Salish from Katzie First Nation and an educator, consultant, TEDx Speaker, social activist, traditional knowledge keeper, and cultural practitioner.
My sincerest thanks to the Education Committee and our PEA staff for making this conference such a success.
PEA Second Vice-President
Education Committee Chair
For 30 years, the PEA has been giving scholarships and bursaries to members and their families. This year, 20 scholarships were granted by the awards committee. Of the 107 applications received, those that met the eligabilty criteria were entered into a random draw. We are thrilled to announce the deserving recipients by sharing the career and education goals these scholoships will help them achive.
Fourteen additional bursary awards of $500 each were given to the following members: Hailey Cocker, Leia Fougere, Nirav Galani, Cristy Hartman, Marcus Jung, Lisa McIvor, Gayle Palas, Cassandra Rosa, Nour Sahib, Noza Saidaminova, Nisha Thomas, Jeremy Pearce, Danielle VanderEnde and Stuart Venables.
Applications for the 2024 scholarship and bursary awards will reopen in the spring. For more details visit
The PEA Association Executive has officially made the BC Energy Regulator a separate PEA Chapter and no longer part of the Government Licensed Professionals (GLP) Chapter.
Pearson College (PC) was certified to join the PEA on June 21, 2023. Pearson College is a two-year pre-university school on Vancouver Island in Metchosin, one of 18 schools and colleges in the United World Colleges movement. The 24 new members at PC teach a range of subjects, including climate action, biology, chemistry, English, philosophy, French, history, mathematics, physics, and Spanish. They began bargaining a new collective agreement this fall.
On July 14, 2023, Bill 5 came into force amending the Public Service Labour Relations Act and bringing in about 300 lawyers who work for the BC Government into the PEA and specifically into the Government Licensed Professionals’ (GLP) bargaining unit. The lawyers, represented by the BC Government Lawyers Association (BCGLA), had been trying for many years to form their own independent union and to have their own collective agreement. With the passing of Bill 5, the PEA is the official bargaining agent with exclusive legal rights to bargain and represent these lawyers in all labour relations matters.
On September 26, paralegals working at the Law Society were officially certified by the Labour Relation Board to join the Law Society Lawyers chapter.
Ed Margawang joined the Association Executive as the GLP representative. The executive and staff met on October 18 and 19, 2023, for strategic planning.
The following PEA chapters collective agreements were ratified in the past few months:
BCER voted 93% in favour in August 2023
SMS voted 93% in favour in June 2023
The following PEA chapter collective agreements will expire in the coming year:
Okanagan Regional Librarians: December 2023
Hospital Employees’ Staff Union: March 2024
Law Society: December 2024
Held this year at Loon Lake Lodge and Retreat Centre in Maple Ridge, 50 young workers came together to delve into styles of leadership and identifying ways to grow. Two PEA members attended the retreat and member J. Wu shared the following about her experience:
“It was a valuable experience. I was able to learn more about unions (e.g., their history and role in shaping modern workplaces and work-life balance), communication, and different resources and opportunities for involvement (such as Mental Health First Aid and Be More than a Bystander training).
It was amazing to see what young workers are doing in their workplaces across the province and I wish I had more opportunities to participate in this event (or other similar gatherings) to learn from and with my peers earlier in my career. I also appreciated the mentorship of the BCFED members and hearing about and experiencing the impact they are making.”
This event typically runs every year so if you are a young worker and interested in attending next year, look for the registration email in June 2024.
GLP members can submit requests for funding of up to $250 for an activity or event to the GLP Grants and Donations Committee. Grants and donations are administered by the GLP Executive based on their consistency with the chapter’s strategic plan or promotion of the Association and GLP Chapter.
For the full eligibility considerations and policy visit our chapter webpage . All grant and donation requests must be submitted using the online form at pea.org/chapters/glp/grant-form.
Remember to submit your online request early and before December 2023 for year-end events!
The PEA now has an associate membership with the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Trans and Intersex Association (ILCA) meaning that we join them as an ally and can access their resources.
Duncan Pike joined the staff team as Organizer in February. Duncan is a campaigner, and social movement trainer with a passion for supporting people who are working for a more just, fair, and equitable society. Before joining PEA, he worked as an instructor with the Institute for Change Leaders in Toronto, where he trained hundreds of new activists and union members on organizing and campaign strategy and tactics, public narrative, and campaign messaging.
As a campaigner with a media freedom nonprofit, Duncan led the successful, nationwide campaign to pass Canada’s first ‘press shield’ law to protect journalists’ sources. As a member of USW Local 1998 in Toronto, Duncan led internal mobilization efforts against Ontario’s anti-worker Bill 124.
Duncan led the Pearson College organizing drive as well as the paralegals who joined the Law Society Chapter.
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