Tranquility Lost

Tranquility Lost

The Occupation of Tranquille and Battle for Community Care in BC

By Gary Steeves

Nightwood Editions
5.5 x 8.5 - 256 pages
Paperback - $21.95
October 2020

In 1983, the BC provincial government announced plans to close Tranquille, a large residential institution for persons with intellectual disabilities located outside Kamloops. The announcement was made with no community placement plans for residents. The nearly six hundred employees of Tranquille, members of the BC Government Employees Union and the Union of Psychiatric Nurses, were alarmed by the lack of any Ministry of Human Resources planning for the future of the residents and the ministry’s stated intention to use newly tabled legislation to terminate Tranquille employees without cause and avoid any other collective agreement obligations to employees. Consequently, BCGEU members decided to sit-in and occupy the institution by expelling management, running the institution themselves and publicly advocating for quality community care for people with intellectual disabilities. They did so for nearly a month.

Tranquility Lost chronicles the political and public policy conditions leading up to the occupation, the day-to-day activities of the occupation itself, the challenges faced by the workers and negotiations leading to an agreement. Steeves’s account profiles the courage of Tranquille employees and their unprecedented use of collective bargaining as a tool to address conditions faced by government clients as well as government employees themselves.