Moncton – Forty-two civil society organizations stand in solidarity with New Brunswick’s community care-giving sector employees in calling on the provincial government to make significant public investments in their wages.
“The pandemic has amplified the inequities in the care-giving sector that we’ve been brushing under the rug for too long,” says Frances LeBlanc, the Coalition Chair. “This needs to be a wake-up call to fix a sector in crisis that has been plagued with inadequate funding, high staff turnover and serious recruitment difficulties. This is a result of systematically underpaying and undervaluing this predominantly female workforce.”
The joint declaration drawn by the New Brunswick Coalition for Pay Equity, and distributed with the collaboration of the Regroupement féministe du Nouveau-Brunswick (RFNB) and the New Brunswick Federation of Labour, states that investments must include:
- Allocating wage subsidies to the entire community care-giving staff providing care to children, seniors, people living with a disability, and women fleeing violence;
- Adjusting wages to ensure pay equity;
- Improving working conditions, including guaranteed paid sick leave and better access to personal protective equipment.
“We have an opportunity to have a public conversation about the care-giving work performed by women. There is a prevailing notion that women enter these care jobs because of vocation, passion, or a compassion deemed ‘natural’ to them. But this is not true. They are more than heroines or guardian angels: they are qualified professionals whose work must be recognized and paid at its fair value,” says Lyne Chantal Boudreau, President of the Regroupement féministe du Nouveau-Brunswick
The declaration contends that wages in the sector should be equal to the wages of employees in male-dominated jobs of comparable value based on the skills, effort, responsibilities and working conditions required. At present, most earn between 14 and 16 dollars an hour—far from reaching pay equity.
“Care-giving work has always been critical, but the wages in the sector do not reflect that status. The more than 12,000 employees in the sector have been shouldering this burden for too long. Caring for the most vulnerable increases their own vulnerability—many of them have no benefits, no paid sick days, no pensions, and few belong to a union,” says Daniel Légère, the President of the New Brunswick Federation of Labour. “The best way to recognize them is to pay them what they’re worth.”
In addition to nursing homes, the Coalition for Pay Equity reiterates that the community care sector includes the following services: special care homes, community residences, home support services, transition houses, family support services, and ADAPT centres. The Coalition is currently heading up a project to evaluate jobs in these six services with sector employees and employers.
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