PEA report warns of shortage of professionals who keep British Columbians safe

Publish date: Thursday, May 05, 2022 news

Wildfire and landslide response, bridge safety, and flood forecasting all impacted.

May 5, 2022 (Victoria) – The Professional Employees Association (PEA) has released a report pointing to critical recruitment and retention challenges within the BC public service for Government Licensed Professionals (GLP).

These professionals are the people the province puts its trust in every day. They are the engineers making sure highways reopen after floods and landslides. As psychologists, they take care of BC’s most vulnerable children and youth. During the wildfires of 2021 foresters and agrologists from across the province joined in to help with the emergency response. Yet the report, Understaffed and overstressed: How inadequate staffing levels and compensation of government professionals is hurting BC, clearly illustrates that there aren’t enough professionals in the public service to support and keep the province safe.

“Our members are the professionals the province relies on,” says Melissa Moroz, PEA Labour Relations Officer. “With climate change an ever-present reality, we need these experts. But a lack of competitive compensation in the public service is driving these trusted scientific professionals to the private sector where they can make a wage that keeps up with the cost of living, and where they have room to advance.”

The report highlights the current situation in BC, where an increasing number of extreme weather emergencies and a shortage of professionals with the public service who can step in to help has led to burnout, increasing reliance on out-of-province personnel and more expensive contractors. The result is inhibiting the effectiveness of BC’s emergency response during floods, landslides and wildfires.

The PEA entered bargaining with the BC Public Service Agency on April 11 for 1,300 GLP members. The collective agreement expired on March 31, 2022.

Report, audio, video, and images:

About the PEA
The Professional Employees Association is a labour union for professional employees. The union was formed in 1974 to represent the Government Licensed Professionals employed in the BC Public Service and has since grown to represent professionals in the education, legal, union and health care sectors. The PEA represents over 1300 licensed professionals in BC’s public service, including Mines Inspectors, Forest Research Scientists, Bridge Engineers, Wildlife Veterinarians, Petroleum Geologists, Agrologists and Foresters.

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Media Contact:
Jordana Whetter, Senior Communications Officer
Phone: 250-385-8791 ext. 210


In this section

The PEA was formed in 1974, by a group of professionals working in the public sector. The story goes that the founders of the union mortgaged their houses to fund negotiations of the union’s first collective agreement. 

Now, the PEA is BC’s union for professionals. We represent a wide range of professionals including lawyers, foresters, engineers, agrologists, teachers, veterinarians, fundraisers, physiotherapists, pharmacists, psychologists program managers, librarians and more.

Our union is led by the PEA Executive. They represent members from across the chapters of the PEA and set the overall vision and direction for our union.

Resources for our members

Navigating a union can sometime be a challenging process. Under this section of the website you will find resources to help you navigate the PEA. In the members section you'll find expense claim reimbursements, information on the PEA's scholarship and bursary program and our grants and donations program.

Collective bargaining and job action resources explain the process of collective bargaining and what to do in the unlikely event of job action. 

Local reps can also find resources to help them complete their job more effectively. This includes ways to welcome new members, how to take notes in investigation disciplinary meetings and more.

The heart of our union

The PEA is made up of nine chapters, or groups of members who either work for the same employer or are in the same field of work. Each chapter has an elected executive tasked with running the affairs of the chapter. Each chapter is entitled to representation at the PEA Executive, the governing body of the union. 

Our members work for a range of employers: the Province of BC, the University of Victoria, St. Margaret's School, the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program, the Oil and Gas Commission, the Law Society of BC, Legal Services Society, the Okangan Regional Library and health authorities across BC.

Professionals need unions now more then ever

Since the 1970’s, when the PEA was formed, our mission has been to ensure our members can work in safe, productive environments and receive fair and reasonable wages and benefits for the valuable work they do. We help individuals and groups of professional workers to understand the challenges they face in their workplaces and some of the solutions available to them. 

We work with potential members to become certified as a union and achieve the wages, benefits and respect they deserve. 

The Professional | Volume 48 Issue 1

The Professional is the PEA's award-winning, quarterly magazine for members.

The Spring 2022 issue takes a deep dive into the work of GLP members and their work during provincial emergencies.

Read the latest issue



The PEA was formed in 1974 to represent licensed professionals in the BC Public Service. Since then the organization has grown to include a wide range of professionals from across BC. Find our more about our governance, staff and strategic direction.

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