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Messages from hundreds of community-based workers from across Saskatchewan will be delivered to Premier Lorne Calvert in Regina today. The messages, including hundreds of personal letters, more than 2,000 signatures on a petition and other creative communiques, will arrive via the Premier Express, a unique campaign courier van that has been travelling the province for the past week.

Our message is clear: Were not going to accept poverty-level wages any longer, says spokesperson Gail Tiefenbach, an employee of HELP Homes in Regina. We demand to be paid the same as people doing comparable work in the public service.

Community-based workers will meet privately with Premier Lorne Calvert and Social Services Minister Harry Van Mulligen at 11:00 a.m. today in Room 131 of the Legislative Building. Spokespersons will be available for media interviews at 11:30.

The courier van is custom decorated with slogans proclaiming Poverty wages dont pay the bills, 2% is a milk product, not a wage increase, and Up with womens wages.

Community-based workers are employed in group homes, early childhood intervention centres, vocational training centres, womens shelters, day cares and other agencies. Fed up with years of underfunding and low wages, they launched a Were worth more! campaign last fall.

Many community-based workers earn on average $8.00 an hour less than government employees doing comparable work. The provincial government provides most, if not all, of the funding for community-based agencies.

The workers, members of CUPE, SEIU and SGEU, want the new Premier to implement a Four-Year Plan to improve wages and working conditions in the community-based organization (CBO) sector. The plan must provide:

  • An immediate wage equity down payment, retroactive to April 1, 2000.

  • Equal pay with provincial government employees within four years.

  • Funding for CBO agencies to recruit, train and retain staff.

  • Pensions for workers in day cares and early childhood development centres.

  • Funding for sick leave and other basic benefits.

Community events were held across Saskatchewan to mark the arrival of the Premier Express. The courier van has visited Moose Jaw, Melville, Yorkton, Preeceville, Prince Albert, Nipawin, North Battleford, Rosthern, and Saskatoon.

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For more information call Gail Tiefenbach at 781-9470 or the Premier Express Courier at 536-9443.