REGINA - People working in Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) intend to make the need for improved funding and service delivery standards a provincial election issue.
“We’re worth more and so are the people we serve,” says SEIU-West spokesperson Debbie Morrison. “During the election, we want to identify candidates committed to supporting positive changes in this sector.”
The CBO workers, members of CUPE, SGEU and SEIU, will ask candidates to declare their support for a three-point action plan to address years of chronic underfunding and program disparities. The Declaration for Community-Based Organizations, launched today, calls on the Saskatchewan Government to:
Implement a four-year funding strategy to address salary, training and operating-cost issues
Develop and fund a comprehensive salary and benefit plan to allow CBO workers to achieve and maintain parity with other public sector workers
- Develop service delivery and facility maintenance standards to ensure quality client services and clear standards of care
A provincial wage survey conducted by a CBO Coalition in 2001 found CBO workers were paid $ 8 - $10 an hour less (on average) than those working in comparable jobs in the Saskatchewan public service. By 2010, the pay gap had narrowed, but remained more than $4 an hour for child care workers and $7 an hour for group home workers.
“None of us works in this sector for the money. We do it because we genuinely care about the residents,” says Kristina Atherton, a group home worker at Regina’s Cheshire Homes and president of her CUPE local. “But many can’t afford to stay in these jobs.”
SGEU spokesperson Darryl Firth describes this year’s one per cent wage increase for CBO workers as “peanuts.” “It is time for CBO workers to be shown they’re worth a lot more,” he says.
The tri-union coalition represents workers in more than 80 CBOs in the province including early learning and child care, advocacy and support programs, addictions counseling and residential treatment programs, group homes and rehabilitation councils.
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