Moncton - The New Brunswick Coalition for Pay Equity is calling on the provincial government to make significant public investments in caregivers’ wages and ensure pay equity across the community caregiving sector, warning that otherwise, the sector might not be able to weather the COVID-19 crisis.
“The pandemic exacerbates the existing crisis in the caregiving sector. For years, we have systematically undervalued the work of these employees and the pandemic is highlighting how fragile the sector has become, with frankly unattractive wages leading to low recruitment and retention levels. We must ensure fair pay for workers in the caregiving sector now and for the future,” says Frances LeBlanc, Chair of the Coalition for Pay Equity.
Women and men providing care to children, seniors, people living with a disability, and women fleeing violence currently earn between $14 to $16 an hour. Over four weeks, their wages often amount to less than the $2,000 Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).
Care-giving employees across the province note that staying home would be safer and even more economical than going to work. They may feel a duty to care for the most vulnerable, but the risks are high, and the pay is low.
Carrie Randall, a crisis intervenor at the Sussex Vale Transition House, speaks of the impact of low wages on her and her colleagues: “The stress factor looms over the employees and their families, and at a time like this, we realize how little we are valued. Yet, we need to know that we matter. Crisis intervenors do not receive proper wages for the efforts we put forward in our job.”
While the government is urging people to stay home, home care workers like Sylvie Bertrand are leaving their own to take care of others at home: “I have been working for 45 years with dedication and passion. How is it that we are only paid $14.80 an hour to care for these seniors in their homes? I hope this crisis shows that our services are more than essential, but vital!”
According to the Coalition, the whole compensation package needs to be reviewed. Improvements must be made to wages as well as benefits and working conditions in the sector. That includes ensuring paid sick leave, more stable working schedules, a greater staffing ratio, and—during times of crisis—better access to personal protective equipment.
“It is obvious that wages in the sector do not reflect the value of the work compared to male-dominated jobs. Without quick intervention, New Brunswick is in grave danger of losing these dedicated workers. We call on the government to make the necessary investments now to reach pay equity in the sector. Crisis or not, we expect these employees to care for us and for our families. It’s time to care for them,” concludes the Coalition Chair.
Caregiving services include:
- Special Care Homes
- Community Residences
- Home Support Services
- Family Support Services
- Transition Houses
- Adult Developmental Activities, Programs and Training (ADAPT) Agencies