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.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Federal government says no to relaxing log export rules

News comes after Steelworkers, Mosaic ask for ‘temporary relief’ on log export policy

Port Alberni residents gather to protest racism

Peaceful Drive By Protest planned for Thursday

San Group opens new sawmill in B.C.

It’s the first mill in 15 years to be built on west coast

Drive-in movie coming to Port Alberni

Event limited to 50 vehicles due to COVID-19

City of Port Alberni’s security program open to all residents

Matching grant program offers 50 percent reimbursement for security upgrades

VIDEO: A Vancouver Island black bear takes weekend nap in eagle tree

Videos captured by Terry Eissfeldt shows the bear arriving Saturday night and sleeping in on Sunday

An ongoing updated list of Alberni Valley events affected by COVID-19

Has your event been cancelled or postponed? Check here

About 30% of B.C. students return to schools as in-class teaching restarts amid pandemic

Education minister noted that in-class instruction remains optional

Trudeau avoids questions about anti-racism protesters dispersed for Trump photo-op

Prime minister says racism is an issue Canadians must tackle at home, too

Considerations made to keep Island community’s drive-by birthday celebrations going

Trucks will tone it down or not use horns at all to bring some joy to kids and older folks

RCMP, coroner investigate ‘unexpected deaths’ on Salt Spring Island

Two dead, police say there is no risk to the public

Summer tubing ban on Cowichan River lifted

The Tube Shack opening on June 27

Most Read