The New Brunswick Home Support Association (NBHSA) is disappointed with the lack of investment for seniors and persons with disabilities of New Brunswick offered by the Department of Social Development during the March 20th legislature. New Brunswick has the second highest senior population in Canada. Under the present government’s direction hours of home care service offered to New Brunswickers through Social Development have declined 12% in the past year, 31% in the past two. The new budget spending indicates New Brunswickers will be offered even less support in the coming year.
Premier Alward had committed in 2010 to investing in regular increases in wages and benefits for home support workers every year for four years and corresponding funding increases for agencies. This promise has been broken.
A pay equity evaluation performed by the Women’s Equality Branch of the province’s Executive Council Office assessed the home support industry wage to be at a minimum of $13.15/hr. (presently home care workers currently earn on average $11/hr.) Attracting new staff to address increasing needs is an issue because of it.
A commitment by the NBHSA to assist in the creation and implementation of improved training for staff was predicated in receiving investment for both costs of training and providing better wages for staff. This is not happening. Last night’s proposal may increase staff wages to $11.25 per hour. This puts the new education program and the mysterious Home First program in jeopardy.
The NBHSA recognizes the urgent need to provide qualified home care workers to seniors in New Brunswick and as such has raised the bar by implementing standardized training across the province for all agency home care workers. In addition it is the most financially viable solution as well. Adequate compensation is critical for agencies that provide initial and on going training and thus workers.
The time is now… Government forecasts indicate the senior population of 130,000 will increase to over 20-25% of the total provincial population by 2020, an aging workforce and the need for recruitment incentives to attract new workers with the current and future demographic trends that are presented in our province demand attention.