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2024-2025 Provincial Budget - Pay equity: still out of reach for care workers

Moncton The Coalition welcomes the provincial government's investment in care worker wages for a sixth consecutive year, but contends that its refusal to legislate pay equity perpetuates inequity and instability in the sector.

The government is investing $29.7 million in wage increases for workers in the following care services:

  • $2.25 an hour for Human Services Counsellors (HSC) working in community residences, family support, attendant care and Employment and Support Programs and Services (ESSP),
  • $2.00 an hour for workers in group homes and child-specific placements,
  • 2% for Personal Support Workers (PSW) in home care, special care homes and specialized care bed home residents

"The Coalition welcomes the government's continued investment in the wages of the more than 11,000 workers in the care sector. But once again, the government has denied them the right to pay equity. With annual budget surpluses numbering in the millions of dollars, why is it choosing to continue underpaying this essential workforce?" asks Krysta Cowling, Chair of the New Brunswick Coalition for Pay Equity.

The Coalition recognizes that this year's wage adjustments better reflect the value of different jobs relative to one another, but fall short of reaching pay equity with men-dominated jobs of equal value. She laments the fact that some services are only receiving a 2% increase.

"Given that inflation was 3.7% in 2023, wages in some departments are lagging further behind pay equity," the Chair explains.

Debbie Grant, who has worked as an HSC in Child Protection for over 30 years in Woodstock, agrees: "I'm relieved that the government is redressing the inequity it introduced by levelling all wages in the sector last year. However, I am disappointed that the government fails to fully recognize the difficulties and risks we face in our work, and that it refuses to commit to pay equity. No matter how hard we try, the government continues to relegate care work to the back burner.”

The Coalition indexed the fair wages determined by job evaluations in 2020 and 2021. These wages range from $25.89 to $29.90 per hour in 2024, depending on the job and service. This represents a gap of around $5 to $8 an hour. But it's the PSWs who are bearing the brunt of the government's cautious, gradual approach to wages, with an increase of just 2%.

"This budget is still a step in the right direction, but we must continue to ensure that wages for all jobs in the care sector truly reflect the value of the work provided. To achieve pay equity, wage adjustments must exceed inflation," says Adrien Mazerolle, director of Le Havre communautaire in Richibucto. 

Wage increases 2024-2024

"The Coalition, New Brunswickers and the government all agree: care workers deserve to be paid what they're worth. But so far, the government refuses to implement the right solutions: investing sufficient resources to achieve pay equity in the care sector, and enshrining the right to pay equity in law for the entire private sector. That way, wages in all women-dominated jobs would be equitable, and in the case of care, wages would no longer be contingent on political will," adds Krysta Cowling.


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Rachel Richard
Public Affairs and Communication