Moncton - The New Brunswick Coalition for Pay Equity recognizes that the government has made an investment in wage increases for workers in the caregiving sector for a third consecutive year. At the current rate, Home Support Workers will reach pay equity in 2053, and Direct Caregivers in Community Residences in 2032.
The 2021-2022 budget includes the following increases:
- $0.20 for home support workers, increasing their hourly wage to $15.50
- $0.50 for workers in special care homes, increasing their hourly wage to $15.50
- $0.75 for direct caregivers in community residences, increasing their hourly wage to $16.80
- $1.30 for family support services workers, increasing their hourly wage to $16.80
- $1.30 for attendant care workers, increasing their hourly wage to $16.80
Notably absent from the investment are workers from Employment and Support Service Program (ESSP) and transition houses for women fleeing an abusive relationship.
Laurie Anderson, who works as a Human Service Counsellor at an adult community residence in Woodstock received the news with disappointment: “I have been caring for adults with mental health and intellectual disabilities for 25 years so I know first-hand that the pay is way too low for what we do. Workers in community residences will still earn less than my sons did working on a farm and harvesting Christmas trees at $17 an hour. The pandemic has done nothing but show how essential our sector is. But these increases don’t show it.”
Employers were also expecting more for their employees. “We have been asking for wage increases for a long time, but often all we get are crumbs. This is no longer acceptable. Even with this increase, the wages do not come close to reflect the value of the job. As an employer, hiring and retaining employees at this rate is very difficult,” said Lise Hitchcock, the President of the New Brunswick Association of Residential Agencies.
Following a pay equity exercise conducted in the fall of 2020, the Coalition found that wages in the sector should be between 22 and 25 $ an hour if they were on par with wages of male-dominated jobs of comparable value.
“The caregiving sector has been neglected for too long. Until they reach pay equity and are paid fair wages, the women and men in the sector are shouldering the cost the of the work. If we want to ensure quality care, we have to value the people who provide this care. And pay them accordingly,” added Frances LeBlanc, the Chair of the Coalition. “For workers and their families, now is the time to act.”