Wage Equity Coalition Receives Support from BC Liberals

For the last 2 years, Equal Work Equal Pay B.C. has advocated for wage equity in the province’s female dominated community social services sector.

Equal Work Equal Pay B.C. Asks the BC Government to Provide Mandated Wage Equity by April 1st.

 February 25, 2021—VICTORIA, B.C. 

For the last 2 years, Equal Work Equal Pay B.C. has advocated for wage equity in the province’s female dominated community social services sector. With only a month to go until the B.C. Government provides the sector’s unionized workers with another substantial wage increase, the coalition is calling on Premier Horgan to provide wage equity for all the workers who have played a vital role responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, and who are critical partners in supporting the province’s most vulnerable residents.

“We have tried for years to get Premier Horgan’s government to take the issue of pay equity seriously and have been met with inattention and inaction,” said Ernie Baatz, coalition member and Executive Director of the Spectrum Society for Community Living. “The government is aware of our concerns. The only explanation is that they have made the decision to compensate people less if they are not part of a union.”

The wages of 32,000 front-line workers in B.C.’s community social services sector are funded directly by the provincial government.  The 17,000 workers who do not belong to a union are not getting the same wage increases as the unionized workers. In the health sector, government has committed additional funds to address wage inequity and improve safety in Long Term Care.  In community social services, they are doing the opposite – actually increasing the wage inequity and putting services to vulnerable citizens at risk.  After filing a complaint with the labour relations board, the coalition hoped the government would acknowledge the issue and provide equivalent wage increases for 2019, 2020 and 2021.

Premier Horgan’s government has not met with the coalition to address this unfairness, despite including language on promoting equity for women and people of colour in the most recent ministerial mandate letters.

MLA Karin Kirkpatrick, B.C. Liberal Critic for Children, Family Development, and Childcare, has expressed her support for the coalition and its workers. A former leader in the community social services sector, Kirkpatrick has led some 500 employees across 12 locations providing front-line support services to some of Lower Mainland’s most vulnerable citizens.

Joining the call for Premier Horgan to provide wage equity, MLA Kirkpatrick stated, “It’s unacceptable that the NDP is making policy decisions based on ideology, rather than equity and fairness. Since April 2019, the B.C. Liberals have been asking when John Horgan would stop discriminating against non-unionized workers who are offering the same level of essential community services as unionized workers. As the Legislative Session is set to begin next week, we ask this government to stop this discriminatory practice that forces unionization, immediately equalize funding, and pay the wage increases to non-union employers, which have been held back since April of 2019.”

“Our employees are working hard every day, directly with vulnerable citizens in our communities, and deserve to have their efforts recognized equally by the Provincial Government.  We hope that the government will take its renewed mandate seriously and start taking actions that make British Columbia a fairer province,” Baatz concluded.