B.C. Social Development Minister Shane Simpson. (B.C. government)

B.C. NDP avoids questions about $40M union-only assistance fund

MLAs push for answers about social service ‘low-wage redress’

B.C. NDP cabinet ministers avoided questions Tuesday about what opposition MLAs called a “forced unionization” strategy across the province’s community social services contractors.

The NDP government negotiated a $40 million “low wage redress” fund for employees in community social services last year, in addition to the standard two-per-cent pay increase offered to most provincial unions in each of the next three years. That money is expected to fund an additional four per cent pay increase for qualifying workers, but only those represented by unions.

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson tabled letters to Finance Minister Carole James from two organizations representing hundreds of social services agencies. Tanya Behardien, president of the Federation of Community Social Services of B.C., wrote that member agencies are already struggling and “the widened gap in wages will continue to create employment barriers that many will not be able to overcome.”

Wilkinson read from a letter sent March 15 by Brenda Gillette of the of the B.C. CEO Social Services Leadership Network, predicting that “non-union agencies will be unable to recruit or retain skilled employees” to provide services for children, families, people with intellectual disabilities and Indigenous communities.

READ MORE: BCGEU first to settle with NDP government

READ MORE: Caregivers for developmentally disabled get increase

James replied in question period by saying the B.C. Liberals provided no budget increase for community social services in 2010 or 2011. Social Development Minister Shane Simpson said: “We’re working with that sector. We’re rebuilding that system. It’s working. We’re proud of that.”

B.C. Liberal mental health critic Jane Thornthwaite said half of the social services providers in B.C. are non-union.

“This discrimination is a blatant attempt at forced unionization,” Thornthwaite said.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

2019 Federal election: Courtenay-Alberni candidates address seniors issues

“What are your party’s plans to ease the stress realized by seniors on fixed incomes?”

WATCH: Jordan now a key member on staff at Parksville business

Disability Awareness Month celebrated around province

RDN wants to play role in Ballenas track upgrade

Bringing dilapidated facility up to standard could cost close to $1M

Qualicum Beach joins in on global climate strike

Participants urge government to adequately address climate crisis

Coombs athlete, 91, brings home five gold medals from 55+ BC Games

Buschhaus now has 217 career senior games medals

VIDEO: A moment to remember during the World Lacrosse Men’s Indoor Championship in B.C.

Diego Hernandez Valenzuela’s team lost, but he felt like a winner Saturday

B.C. VIEWS: School officials join fact-free ‘climate strike’

Students, public get distorted picture of greenhouse gases

Handgun crackdown, health spending and transit plans latest campaign promises

Friday was the end of a busy week on the campaign trail

B.C. woman photographs massive ant swarm on Abbotsford driveway

She asked what the ants were doing? The answer: war

Iconic 90s TV show ‘Friends’ celebrates 25th anniversary

The iconic, decade-long television show aired its first episode 25 years ago today

Police arrest B.C. phone scammer linked to illegal call centres in India

Person arrested in Burnaby here on a work visa, says police

Air Canada forced girl, 12, to remove hijab: civil rights group

The San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations calling for change

Man from Winnipeg who was hiking alone found dead in Banff National Park

RCMP say the man was hiking alone on Mount Temple Thursday

Most Read