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Nearly 3,400 B.C. community living workers who support adults, children and infants with disabilities and their families are going on strike, starting on Wednesday, January 30. 

The 24-hour job action will affect Richmond-based Developmental Disabilities Association (DDA) and Burnaby-based PosAbilities, the two largest community social service agencies in British Columbia. Agencies in Vancouver, Victoria, Prince George, Chilliwack, Coquitlam, Kamloops, Vanderhoof, Trail, Salmon Arm, Castlegar, Creston and Cranbrook will also be picketed.

Striking workers will converge at DDA’s headquarters at 3851 Shell Road, Richmond starting at 10 a.m. on Wednesday.

The workers want to send a clear message to the B.C. government: stop putting the squeeze on community living and other community-based social services! Proper funding is needed for programs for people with developmental disabilities and the workers who support them.

Community living workers are caring professionals that make sure the people with developmental disabilities participate in their community and enjoy the best quality of life possible,” says CUPE’s Community Social Services Coordinator Cheryl Colborne.

Our members enjoy working with people, but many of them can’t make ends meet. Starting wages are $15 an hour, a dollar less than ten years ago,” says Colborne. “Many of our members have had to take on second jobs or are having to leave the work they love.”

Recruitment and retention has become a huge problem in the community living sector. Some employers are opting not to pay the first pay level in the wage grid to better retain staff.

Frontline Community Living BC (CLBC) staff agree that additional funding is urgently needed to address the chronic program and support shortages in community living. More than half of all respondents to a recent survey expressed concerns about the budget-driven funding decisions they had been forced to make, over the previous year, with respect to their clients. More than 40 per cent had been required to cut services or supports that they considered necessary for their clients’ health, safety or well-being. The survey was conducted by the BCGEU, which also represents CLBC workers.

The following agencies will be on strike on January 30 for 24 hours:

  • Burnaby - PosAbilities (BCGEU) - 4664 Lougheed Highway
  •  Chilliwack
  • Chilliwack Society for Community Living (BCGEU) - 45845 Wellington Avenue
  • Chilliwack Community Services (BCGEU) - 45845 Wellington Avenue
  •  Coquitlam
  • Simon Fraser Society for Community Living (BCGEU) - 204 Blue Mountain St., Coq. & 1551 Salisbury Ave., PoCo
  • Community Ventures Society (CUPE) - 4664 Lougheed Highway
  •  Richmond
  • Developmental Disabilities Association (BCGEU) - 3851 Shell Road
  • Richmond Society of Community Living (CUPE) - 7000 Minoru Blvd
  • Western Human Resources (HEU) - 3851 Shell Road
  •  Penticton
  • Penticton & District Community Resources Society (BCGEU) - 330 Ellis Street
  • Prince George
  • AimHi (BCGEU) - 950 Kerry Street
  •  Surrey
  • Semiahmoo House Society (BCGEU) - 15306-24th Avenue
  • Arcus Community Resources (BCGEU) - 12388 Patullo Place
  •  Vancouver
  • PosAbilities (BCGEU) - 1387 Venables Street

Essential service levels will be maintained.

Further 24-hour job action is scheduled for Thursday, January 31 in Victoria, Kamloops, Vanderhoof, Trail, Castlegar, Salmon Arm, and Creston, and on Friday, February 1 in Cranbrook.

Community living workers are represented by BCGEU, CUPE, HEU, HSA and six other unions, which together make up the Community Social Services Bargaining Association. There are 15,000 unionized community social service workers, and two-thirds of them work in community living.