A series of job actions last week by community social services workers in the community living sector garnered positive media coverage and raised much-needed public awareness about the dire consequences of a decade of government cuts and underfunding of B.C.’s community living sector.
More than 200 of the striking workers, all of them CUPE or HEU members, conducted all-day job actions in Trail, Castlegar, Creston, and Salmon Arm on January 31 and in Cranbrook on February 1.
These followed actions earlier in the week in Richmond, Burnaby and Victoria by thousands of other workers from the BCGEU and sister unions who are part of the Community Social Services Bargaining Association (CSSBA). At total of 3,400 unionized workers in community living took job action last week.
Thanks to these actions, the state of the community living sector made the headlines all week, with key supporters lining up to call for restored funding to the sector and a fair deal for the workers who provide the services. Much of the coverage highlighted the ongoing fight that families are facing to access community living supports—contrary to recent claims by the provincial government that it has identified and fixed the problems.
In a Globe and Mail article, Alanna Hendren, executive director of the Developmental Disabilities Association (DDA), described the impact of cuts, underfunding, group home closures, and denial of family supports on vulnerable B.C. families who rely on community living services. The DDA is one of the key partners, along with MOMS, BC FamilyNet, Inclusion BC (formerly BCACL), the BC Coalition of People with Disabilities (BCCPD) and sector unions in the BC Community Living Action Group, which has led a two-year campaign to raise awareness of these issues.