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

First council candidate is missing

RCMP asks that anyone with information contact them immediately

Junior A hockey coming to Sooke

Exhibition game helps the Rotary Club to help community youth

Life-Altering experience

Six weeks that served to change their view of the world

Midway will open early at the 2019 Saanich Fair

This year the fair will pilot a “sneak peek” and the main stage will feature April Wine

BC SPCA overwhelmed with cats, kittens needing homes

Large number of cruelty investigations, plus normal ‘kitten season’ to blame

Ethnic media aim to help maintain boost in voting by new Canadians

Statistics Canada says new Canadians made up about one-fifth of the voting population in 2016

Sooke’s Old-Fashioned Country Picnic set for Saturday

The free event combines music, kids activities, food and fun

Wife charged in husband’s death in Sechelt

Karin Fischer has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of her husband, Max

B.C. Hydro applies for rare cut in electricity rates next year

Province wrote off $1.1 billion debt to help reverse rate increase

Retired Vancouver Island teacher ‘Set for Life’ after $675K lottery win

Patrick Shannon plans to buy new sails for his sailboat

New police force in Surrey must avoid VPD, RCMP errors made in Pickton case: Oppal

Boots are scheduled to be on the ground by spring 2021

Man at centre of dropped HIV-disclosure case sues province and 10 cops

Brian Carlisle of Abbotsford says Mission RCMP defamed him and were ‘negligent’ in their investigation

Striking Western Forest Products workers could lose benefits in September

Union, forest company at odds over Vancouver Island benefit payments as strike enters third month

Most Read