“Our goal will be to make sure politicians cannot claim ignorance when confronted with the appalling damage cutting community service funding has done.” — Larry Brown, NUPGE President
Ottawa (06 Nov. 2017) — November 6, 2017, is the 10th annual Community Social Service Workers Appreciation Day. This Appreciation Day was started by the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) to recognize the work done by community service workers.
It’s an opportunity to recognize a group of workers whose work is crucial to the well-being of many Canadians.
“Whether it is supporting people with disabilities so they can live independently, or providing a refuge for women fleeing abuse, community service workers support the most vulnerable people in society,” said Brown.
Importance of work not reflected in funding or working conditions
While the work done by community service workers is vital, it isn’t reflected in the funding community services receive. Over the last 20 years, roughly $46 billion in federal funding has been cut from community services. Provincial governments have also failed to do their part.
“People who rely on community services usually don’t have the money or connections to kick up a row when services they rely on are threatened, and governments implementing austerity policies have taken advantage of that,” said Brown.
Community service workers picking up the pieces
It has been left to community service workers to pick up the pieces following government funding cuts. Workers have gone to great lengths to cushion the people who rely on community services from the effects of the cuts. And too often it has been at a great personal cost.
“We repeatedly hear of community service workers being paid so little that they are living in poverty. Health and safety issues are going unaddressed. Both are a direct result of cuts to federal funding,” said Brown.
Time to show our appreciation by adequately funding community services
Community Social Service Workers Appreciation Day was created to draw attention to the impactful work that community service workers do. In the last 10 years, 2 provinces and over 125 communities across Canada have recognized that the quality of community services depends largely on the workers who provide them.
But kind words are not enough. What is needed is sufficient funding to allow community service workers to do their jobs safely and wages that allow them to live in dignity.
NUPGE campaign for decent funding
Recommendations in the NUPGE policy paper, Community Services, A Plan to Strengthen Canada’s Network of Quality Community Services, set out what’s needed to properly fund community services. NUPGE is in the process of preparing a campaign to support those recommendations.
Part of this includes train-the-trainer sessions. These sessions will help people meeting with elected officials about funding for community services. The training will be held in Ottawa in February or March 2018.
“Our goal will be to make sure politicians cannot claim ignorance when confronted with the appalling damage that cuts to community service funding have done,” said Brown.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 370,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE