On February 7th, alongside Saskatchewan health care workers and CUPE’s National President Mark Hancock, CUPE 5430 released their new report From Pay Cheque to Pay Cheque: The impact of the rising cost of living on health care workers.
The attached report summarizes the results of a survey of Saskatchewan health care workers on the impact of the cost-of-living crisis over the last two years. It demonstrates that inflationary pressures have had a devastating impact on the well-being and families of CUPE 5430 members. It also shows that wage growth among these health workers has not kept pace with the growth in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) over the last decade.
“These health workers are the backbone of Saskatchewan’s public health system. It is devastating to hear the challenges they face putting food on their tables and keeping the lights on,” said Mark Hancock, CUPE’s National President. “It is clear their wages aren’t reflecting their value in the health system. It is unacceptable.”
Survey responses include reports of health workers skipping meals and deferring bills so they can feed their families, incurring significant debt and experiencing serious mental health challenges as they try to manage the cost of living crisis with low wages. Between March 2013 and March 2023, Saskatchewan CPI increases outstripped the general wage increases of CUPE 5430 members and other health care providers by 27% to 14%.
“The provincial government is quick to call health care workers heroes, but they have not stepped up to fairly compensate them for the important work they do to keep our health system running,” said Bashir Jalloh, president of CUPE 5430. “We’re currently negotiating a new contract with the provincial government and this report makes it crystal clear – these workers need significant increases in their wages so they can live in security and dignity. Anything less risks further recruitment and retention challenges.”
CUPE 5430 represents over 13,000 health service providers working for the Saskatchewan Health Authority and affiliates in five major classification areas: clerical, technical nursing, support, and plant operations.