Social services staff in British Columbia can look forward to a wage hike after signing a new contract with the government.
On Feb. 19, the British Columbia Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU), alongside the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) signed a five-year collective agreement with the province on behalf of about 8,000 social services employees, such as those who work with at-risk youth, vulnerable families and individuals, women, aboriginals and children.
As part of the deal, staff will get an 11.5 per cent wage increase, improvements to health benefits (particularly vision care), and increases to mileage and meal allowance reimbursements. The contract also maintains job security provisions and introduces an economic stability dividend for four of the five years of the agreement, which may provide further wage improvements.
“Every day, the caring professionals in community living, family services and the entire community social services sector support the most vulnerable members of our communities. They deserve recognition and fair wages, but have been falling behind for a decade,” said Darryl Walker, president of the BCGEU. “We are putting a deliberate end to that.”
Several other unions also sat at the bargaining table, including the Community Social Services Bargaining Association, the Health Sciences Association of British Columbia, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Hospital Employees’ Union and six others.