Moncton — The New Brunswick Coalition for Pay Equity commends the provincial government's efforts to improve wages in the caregiving sector in the 2022-23 budget for a fourth consecutive year.
"We are thrilled that the government listened to caregivers, and invested in wage increases across the sector again this year. However, they need to make a long-term commitment to pay equity, and in doing so, improve worker recruitment and retention," says Krysta Cowling (she/her), the Coalition Chair.
The government will invest almost $38.6 million to increase the wages of caregivers by $2 an hour, half of which will be allocated in April and half in October. It will also provide a $1.4 million increase to fund transition houses, second-stage housing and domestic violence prevention services.
While the news was welcomed by the sector, caregivers like Sylvie Bertrand, a home care worker, were left wanting more: " We have been waiting for this news for a long time and many of us will be able to benefit financially. But we deserve more: we deserve to be paid equitable wages for the value of our work.
Laurie Anderson, a human service counsellor in a community residence, and Local 3210 President, echoed the same reaction: "This investment is a good start, but it's not enough, considering that it's only keeping up with the minimum wage and inflation," she said. "Most staff will have to continue working two jobs to cover the cost of living. Isn't it time for our government to propose ambitious changes such as a substantial wage increase and pay equity legislation for the private sector?"
Recent job evaluations, conducted by the Coalition for Pay Equity, found that equitable wages range from $22.44 to $25.91 per hour, depending on the service. The planned increase will bring current hourly wages to between $16.50 and $18.80.
The Coalition believes that the government must take a long-term vision, and implement a five-year plan to achieve pay equity across the sector, not simply rely on unpredictable annual increases.
According to the Coalition, it would have been preferable to invest even more in care rather than provide large property tax cuts. "These tax cuts will only increase inequality and decrease our ability to support vulnerable populations, including those who use and provide care services," added Krysta Cowling.