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Government should improve funding for community living and family services, poll shows

British Columbians believe government funding for community-based social services that support vulnerable families should be improved, with a majority being prepared to pay more taxes to do so, says a recent poll.

Ninety percent of those surveyed said community-based social services for youth, women fleeing violence, people with disabilities and special needs, and addiction services are important.

But current government funding levels are too low, 57% of survey respondents said, with 53% supporting increased funding for the not-for-profit social service agencies, even if it means raising taxes a little to provide these valuable services.

Those are some of the key finding from a recent poll conducted by Strategic Communications (Stratcom) on behalf of the Roundtable of Provincial Social Service Organizations of BC. The BCGEU is a member of the Roundtable, representing over 8,000 community living and family service workers across the province.

“We believe that the provincial government must reinvest in community living and other critical services that support vulnerable families across British Columbia. We need a long term funding plan for this critical sector, and British Columbians agree with us,” said BCGEU President Darryl Walker.

Community social services are provided not-for-profit agencies that support youth-at-risk, women fleeing violence, people with disabilities, immigrants, people with mental health and addiction challenges, First Nations, and many others.

Three quarters of British Columbians have used community-based social services, or knew someone who had, the survey reveals. Eighty percent believe these services have a positive impact on their community, according to the survey.

“Community living workers who support adults with disabilities can’t take care of their own families,” says Walker. “Our caring professionals recently had to resort to three months of rotating job action to get a modest wage increase. Sectoral starting wages are below 2002 levels, and below the living wage. That is not right.”

Community-based not-for-profit agencies receive provincial government funding for programs and services, adhering to strict accountability and reporting requirements. Many agencies operate on shoestring budgets and must secure other revenue sources to finance their programs, including social enterprises, gaming grants, foundations, and individual donations.

The Stratcom poll used a representative sample of 802 British Columbians. Margin of error is not reported for online polling, as it is not derived from a probability sample.

The B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union represents 8,000 caring professionals working at not-for-profit social service agencies in communities across BC. 

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