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Nova Scotia to raise continuing care assistants’ wages by 23 per cent

Click to play video: 'Nova Scotia long-term care sector impacted by staff shortages, restrictions'
Nova Scotia long-term care sector impacted by staff shortages, restrictions
WATCH: Long-term care workers are feeling the stress of being short-handed now more than ever in a workforce that has been facing staff shortages before the pandemic. – Jan 4, 2022

Nova Scotia has announced it is spending $65 million to ensure its continuing care assistants become the highest paid in Atlantic Canada.

Effective Thursday, wages for CCAs in the publicly-funded sector will increase by about 23 per cent.

This raise will bring the top annual salary for CCAs to $48,419, or about $25 an hour. According to the province, this will mean nearly $9,000 more per year for most full-time workers.

“We’re doing everything we can to fix the system,” said Premier Tim Houston in a news release.

“We’ve heard from CCAs and unions time and again that we can’t do this until we address wages for CCAs,” Houston said, adding he was shocked to hear Nova Scotia’s were the lowest in the country.

Read more: N.S. long-term care workers rally across the province for better working conditions

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In late November 2021, employees of long-term care across Nova Scotia rallied to demand government support.

CCAs had said they are burned out, oftentimes working short-staffed and having to work multiple jobs due to low wages.

“I’m burned out. I can’t do it anymore. I can’t say that I love being a CCA anymore because I don’t,” Paul Andrew Daley said in November, after spending 28 years in the sector. He also said residents of long-term care aren’t receiving the best possible care because staff are burnt out.

Click to play video: 'Nova Scotia nursing students start placements in long-term care to tackle staff shortages'
Nova Scotia nursing students start placements in long-term care to tackle staff shortages

In Wednesday’s announcement, Houston said the province feels workers’ frustration and the urgency of the situation.

“The system needs investment, and the workers need support now. We want them to know they are heard, valued and respected,” Houston said in the release.

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Soon after the announcement, Unifor tweeted its support for the decision to raise CCA’s salary.

“We cannot stress how hard and for how many years the members worked for this and how needed it is to create better working and living conditions in LTC,” the tweet read.

The province said groups with collective agreements that have already been settled will be adjusted upward to the new pay scale. CCAs will not have to wait until collective bargaining concludes to get the raise, but the timing of implementation will be determined by individual employers, according to the release.

Read more: N.S. to add 500 new beds to long-term care system in about ‘3 to 5 years’

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Barbara Adams, Minister of Seniors and Long-Term Care commemorated the work and sacrifices CCAs have made during the pandemic.

“They also deserve to be paid more and get help and relief from more staff in their workplaces,” Adams said in the release.

This raise will affect about 6,700 publicly funded CCA positions across the province, most of which work in continuing care.

However, the government has also committed to hiring an additional 1,440 CCAs as part of their investment into the sector.

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