March is Community Social Services (CSS) Awareness Month. CUPE BC honours and appreciates the more than 3,500 CUPE members who work in community social services. These include community support workers for the developmentally challenged, employment counsellors, addiction counsellors, legal advocates, early childhood educators and more.

B.C.’s frontline community social service workers and agencies help build safe and caring communities that support everyone when they need it—especially our most vulnerable citizens.

Community social services are critical to B.C.’s safety net because they help make sure that people in need don’t fall through the cracks.

The work of CUPE CSS members has become all the more critical since the arrival of COVID-19, as vulnerable clients have experienced increased mental and emotional stress around loss of income, access to housing, social distancing, and other challenges. The global pandemic has increased the burden for the community social service workers who are there to help them.

“After two years, the pandemic is still creating labour shortages and redeployment issues throughout the sector, and CUPE CSS members continue to work with B.C.’s most vulnerable despite the stressful conditions,” says CUPE BC President Karen Ranalletta.

“Community social service workers keep on providing these vital public services, no matter how difficult the conditions, because they are committed to helping people. They are the heart and soul of our communities and they deserve a fair deal, so we hope to see some progressive gains made at the bargaining table.”

Bargaining for B.C.’s Community Social Service workers began last month and continues through March. As well as addressing recruitment and retention issues, workload, and burnout, CUPE CSS workers hope that negotiations will lead to improvements in wages, benefits, and mental health support.