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Saskatoon - Workers from community-based agencies are challenging Premier Romanow and his government to announce a major public policy initiative to raise the wages in this sector, as the governments of Manitoba and British Columbia have done.

The approximately 10,000 employees who work in group homes, vocational training centres, child care centres and other community-based agencies occupy some of the poorest paid jobs in the broader public sector, with incomes at or below the poverty line. Nearly all of the employees are women.

Although many of these agencies provide essential services to people on the margins - the mentally and physically challenged, children, victims of violence they have been chronically under-funded by the provincial government.

Premier Romanow has an opportunity to change and substantially improve the lives of women working in these agencies, by announcing a major funding increase to this sector, says Regina group home worker Gail Tiefenbach. Its long overdue, she adds.

A comprehensive wage study found employees in Saskatchewan community-based agencies earn about $10.00 less per hour than their counterparts in departments and agencies directly funded by the government. The wage study, supported by the provincial government, used the job evaluation plan developed by the Saskatchewan Public Service Commission and the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees Union (SGEU).

The results of the wage study were presented to Cabinet last year, but the governments response has been disheartening. In the March budget, Finance Minister Cline announced a paltry 2% increase which represents about 16 cents more an hour to employees in these community agencies.

Ms. Tiefenbach says community-based agencies need another $40 million to provide adequate wages, pension plans, and benefits to employees.

Were hoping Premier Romanow will take action to support working women in the broader public sector, says Ms. Tiefenbach. But if he doesnt act, we will, she states.

About 100 people from community-based agencies are attending the Were Worth More Conference in Saskatoon today to develop an action plan to secure improved government funding. The participants, members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Service Employees International Union and SGEU, work in community-based agencies across the province.

For more information contact group home workers
Gail Tiefenbach, Millie Leonard or Tara Burnett
at 306- 536-9443

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