Moncton - The New Brunswick Coalition for Pay Equity is disheartened that the provincial government is leaving over 59 million dollars in federal funds on the table, intended for COVID-19 direct spending initiatives.
The latest study from the Canadian Center for Policy Alternative (CCPA) reveals that the province has not accessed $30 million for Essential Workers Wage Top-up, nor $19.7 million for its Safe Long-term Care Fund, meant to cover additional long-term care expenses
“Workers are under increased stress and struggling to keep themselves and the residents safe. Yet, they remain underpaid. It is not time to save money,” said Frances LeBlanc, the Coalition Chair. “It is time to be fair and show compassion to all these workers who are providing services to seniors, people with physical and mental disabilities or mental illnesses, women fleeing domestic violence and children.”
The Coalition hailed the government’s decision last May to grant a monthly supplement of $500 for four months to front-line workers in the caregiving sector earning less than $18 and hour. Because it was temporary, this recognition, which ended in July, is not beneficial to caregivers who are facing a surge of outbreaks in long-term care facilities since the beginning of the second wave.
“The caregiving workforce is under unprecedented strain and is facing higher risks while still earning low wages. They cannot live on recognition alone. The value of their work should be reflected in their paycheck,” adds Frances LeBlanc.
The sector, which was in crisis long before the pandemic is facing challenges in recruitment and retention of caregivers given their low wages and poor working conditions, such as little to no paid sick days. Most caregivers currently earn between $14 and $16 per hour. Their wages do not reflect the responsibilities, skills, effort and working conditions required for their work.
“We call on the government to provide the necessary 25% in funding to match federal money, and provide addition wage top-ups for the entire caregiving sector. Moreover, we will be watching the next provincial budget closely for key investments in caregiving. The government has an opportunity to steer its agenda to support the care economy, not only during the pandemic but in the long term,” concludes Frances LeBlanc.