Sackville — Close to a hundred caregiving employees and employers, family and unpaid carers, advocacy groups and policy makers convened to explore how to improve service delivery models, employment, and care in the community-based care sector in New Brunswick.
This Valuing Care Work Summit was hosted in partnership by Mount Allison University and the New Brunswick Coalition for Pay Equity. It featured the latest research by Dr. Rachelle Pascoe-Deslauriers and her research team on the structural and systemic changes needed in the way care services are commissioned, governed and delivered.
“We are thrilled to bring our findings and discussion ideas from two years of research comparing caregiving work in New Brunswick to other national and international jurisdictions. This summit was an opportunity to give space and voice to those involved in the sector to talk about the structural and systematic challenges in care work,” said Dr. Rachelle Pascoe-Deslauriers.
The Summit's objective was to bring together diverse actors and stakeholders from across the sector to pool their expertise and experience. In addition to breakout sessions, the summit included a roundtable discussion that featured the perspectives of employees (Laurie Anderson, New Brunswick Community Service Unions), employers (Adrien Mazerolle, Résidences du Havre), unpaid carers (Norma Dubé, Association francophone des ainés du Nouveau-Brunswick), as well as migrant workers and newcomers (Aditya Rao and Tracy Glynn, Mahdu Verna Migrant Justice Centre).
“The Coalition welcomed the opportunity to collaborate on this project to reflect on how the current systems impact on the way care is delivered in New Brunswick. This sector has been in crisis for a long time, and these research findings mirror our own assessment—that the conditions of work are the conditions of care,” added Johanne Perron, the Coalition’s Executive Director. “The care workforce, which is heavily dominated by women, has long been undervalued and underpaid. The provincial government must develop a long-term plan to address these workforce challenges, including improving working conditions and ensuring fair wages.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted both the centrality for care work for society and the economy, and the fragility of current models for delivering community-based care in Canada and around the world, and right here in New Brunswick. The crisis in the community care sector has been exacerbated in recent years as the province grapples with growing demands for care coupled with serious workforce recruitment and retention challenges due to low quality jobs.
“With all of the complexities of delivering care services and valuing care work, I feel inspired by the fact that New Brunswick is not alone in these challenges. Going forward, we cannot continue to rely on the compassion of caregivers to fill the gaps in essential care services. Because the sector is publicly funded, there are levers that the government can and should do to think about improving work,” added Dr. Pascoe-Deslauriers.
“We need to improve our delivery systems and make a career out of care so that New Brunswickers will get the care they deserve.