B.C. Liberals told: stop putting vulnerable families last

“B.C. Liberal government has put vulnerable families last on its priority list." BCGEU President Darryl Walker.

Vancouver (29 Oct. 2012) - Striking community social service workers went to the B.C. Liberal convention in Whistler with a clear message: stop putting vulnerable families last!

“The B.C. Liberal government has put vulnerable families last on its priority list. Since 2004, they have slashed $300 million in funding for programs that support the developmentally disabled, vulnerable women, at-risk youth, and children and infants in community-based programs across the province,” said B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU/NUPGE) President Darryl Walker.

“We are headed to the B.C. Liberal convention to support the caring professionals dedicated to supporting vulnerable families at community-based not-for-profit agencies across the province,” said BCGEU/NUPGE Community Social Services Chair Patsy Harmston, who is a transition house worker. “The government is failing vulnerable families by putting services they depend upon at risk through constant cuts.”

“Workers have faced a decade of declining wages, and many are leaving the profession or are taking multiple jobs to make ends meet,” said Harmston. In 2002, the starting wage for a residential care worker was $16.83. Today, it’s $15.54. That’s a wage loss of over 20 percent over a decade, after inflation.

Community social service workers have been in a position to strike as of October 16, and rotating strike action took place last week in Vancouver, Kamloops and Prince George.

BCGEU/NUPGE is the largest union representing B.C’s 15,000 community-based social service workers, followed by CUPE, HEU and HSABC/NUPGE.

Community social services are not government social workers; they help and support the most vulnerable members of B.C.’s communities, including youth-at-risk, women fleeing violence, people with disabilities, immigrants, First Nations, and many others.

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