CUPE BC, the province’s largest union, is calling on Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim to reverse course on his process of decampments in the City’s Downtown Eastside (DTES).

“The ongoing decampment in the DTES is the vision of Vancouver’s City Council and Mayor Ken Sim,” said CUPE BC President and Vancouver resident Karen Ranalletta. “The mayor’s tactics, forcibly removing people from their homes and disposing of their belongings as they watch, are unnecessarily cruel and dehumanizing.”

While some of the decampment processes have involved CUPE members working for the City of Vancouver, the approach taken by the city’s leadership does not reflect the values of CUPE BC or CUPE 1004.

CUPE workers have no capacity to reject this work under current labour laws, and face discipline or termination if they refuse their daily assignment without legal justification. 

“City workers are members of our community who go to work every day to provide the services that support Vancouver residents, families, and visitors,” said Ranalletta. “The tasks demanded of these workers stands in contrast to our advocacy, which calls for a harm reduction and a trauma-informed approach when dealing with vulnerable populations.”

CUPE BC believes the actions of the city are irresponsible without an adequate housing solution for anyone and everyone being displaced.

“Ken Sim’s approach only exacerbates the problem of housing insecurity. We need safe, dignified, and supportive housing, quickly,” said Ranalletta. “Until more housing is constructed, we need to make sure that all forms of housing, whether they be in parks or shelters, are as safe, supportive, and as dignified as possible.”