N.B. health-care workers applaud extra pay, coalition calls for pay equity

Click to play video: 'N.B. group calling for pay equity in the province'
N.B. group calling for pay equity in the province
The provincial government allocated nearly $45 million for wage increases for personal support workers, as part of the New Brunswick budget. It’s hoped the bump will help with staffing shortages in special care homes. While the money comes with gratitude from most, one group is looking for equal pay. Zack Power reports. – Apr 21, 2023

Special care homes are applauding a move by the provincial government in providing a pay increase for personal support workers.

The budget allocated $44.9 million for pay increases. The money will be used to give a $2.50 an-hour increase to special care home workers and home support workers, who were previously earning $16.50 and $17.50, respectively.

One special care home just outside the Fredericton region told Global News that finding personal support workers has become increasingly difficult with the lack of wages for workers.

Owner Cristie Dykeman said that many smaller homes struggle to compete in recruiting and retaining workers.

The New Brunswick Coalition for Pay Equity said that pay for personal support workers should be somewhere around $25/hour, noting that pay is nearly $6 an hour short of that.

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“Sometimes people drop out of the workforce because that’s the only way they can make it happen,” told Johanne Perron from the group.

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“In a time when we struggle so much with the labour shortage. We need to support them.”

Working conditions, effort and education requirements were all cited as a lack of will to get into the industry, and according to the group, pay needs to be higher to fix the industry.

She said the increase will help in keeping up with inflation, noting this can prevent workers from dropping out of the workforce.

While more pay for those workers is applauded, the coalition said that they would have liked to see more money invested into Support Services Programs Workers, Crisis Interveners and Family Support Workers.

Currently, that pay sits somewhere between $15-18/hour, but the group believes that it should be priced at $27-28 per hour.

“I’m wondering why they only provided a $1 increase for these workers compared to a $2.50 increase for support workers,” she told Global News. “We would have hoped to see more money for those workers.”

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The New Brunswick Department of Social Development told Global News they plan on meeting with the coalition to discuss the matter.

The group said they’re looking forward to next year’s budget for another pay increase.

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