Community social service workers on strike; vulnerable families last on B.C. government’s priority list

Fifteen thousand community-based social service workers across B.C. are in a position to strike as of today, and rotating job action begins with a rally at Christy Clark’s MLA office in Kitsilano today starting at 10am.

“The B.C. 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 BCGEU President Darryl Walker.

“We are rallying today to support the caring professionals dedicated to helping vulnerable families. Community social service workers are on strike because the government is putting services and people at risk through constant cuts,” said BCGEU Community Social Services Chair Patsy Harmston, who is herself a transition house worker.

“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 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.

“The government must stop putting the squeeze on community social services, and offer a fair and reasonable wage for the workers who do the most with the least,” says Harmston.

Today’s strike in Vancouver will be followed by job action in Kamloops (Oct. 17) and Prince George (Oct. 18).

For more information, download this information leaflet