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Two years after premier John Calvert promised one, workers in Saskatchewan’s community-based organizations are still waiting for the long-term funding plan that would deal with their poor wages and working conditions.

Thousands of community-based workers like group home supervisor Joanne Mountney are still living on “no-name macaroni budgets”, working at extra jobs to pay the bills and wondering, “What happened to the

premier’s promise?”

The unions are planning a major rally at the Saskatchewan legislature on March 7 to demand the government produce the promised plan.

Unionized CBO workers had run a high profile campaign that declared their labour was worth more than $7 to $9 an hour. The workers, who are mostly women, wanted the government to put $40 million more over four years into improving their wages and benefits.

The province responded by committing to multi-year funding.

“I really was counting on Premier Calvert,” says Ms. Mountney, a CUPE activist in Melville, Saskatchewan.

“I thought he was someone we could trust.”

A 1999 wage comparison study with the Saskatchewan public service showed CBO workers making about $8 less an hour (on average) than provincial government employees doing work of equal value.

The Calvert government increased funding to the sector by 6% in 2001 and 4.5% in 2002. For Joanne Mountney, that meant an extra 88 cents an hour on her $8.05 wage.

In contrast, a person working in a job of “equal value” in the public service such as a highway maintenance supervisor is now making up to $22.42 an hour.