For immediate release
THE ALBERTA DISABILITY WORKERS ASSOCIATION (ADWA) CALLS ON THE GOVERNMENT OF ALBERTA TO PAY ESSENTIAL DISABILITY SUPPORT WORKERS THE FEDERAL TOP-UP WAGES
EDMONTON – ADWA is calling on the Alberta Government to give Alberta Disability Support workers, who are considered essential workers during this pandemic, their share of the federal COVID-19 wage top ups.
“Our dedicated workforce has been at their jobs and continue to provide support during this pandemic. They provide a broad range of supports to Albertans with disabilities, often for little more than minimum wage.’ says Shauna Pilipchuk, President of ADWA . “It is unacceptable that they have not received the federal top-up wages yet.” “On May 7th the Prime Minister announced this increase giving the provinces decision power over who will receive the increase. It’s time for our Alberta government to take action and give this workforce what they deserve.”
Community Disability Support Workers provide a broad range of services and supports and are employed by community organizations who receive funding from the Alberta government to deliver these mandated, essential provincial services. These services can include physical and mental health care, personal care, spiritual development, social development, household management (cooking, cleaning, general maintenance, etc.), teaching new skills and supporting independent living, helping people to connect with friends and family, health, wellness, fitness and life coaching—the list goes on. COVID19 has brought us new challenges adding to already very full days/nights. Our workforce is exhausted and want to see this government publicly acknowledge the work we do.” says Pilipchuk.
The money that the government provides to organizations to pay the workers clearly does not reflect the level of education, knowledge, training and skills that is expected.
Wages in the sector have not increased in the last 6 years. According to a recent Alberta Council of Disability Services report, 56% of the workforce earns less than $20/hr., with more than ¼ earning less than $17.49/hr. This is resulting in an annual turnover rate of 26% in the sector. Three quarters (approximately 75%) of the people who work in the sector are women.
The disability sector has experienced a long history of being underpaid and undervalued for work that depends on a skill set that goes unnoticed, often in quite complex situations. Many people in this workforce typically work more than one job to sustain a living wage. This is not possible during the pandemic. Families are suffering the consequences. Given our low rates of pay and many workers being limited to one worksite, ADWA expected that our workforce would at least be provided the federal top-up wages for essential workers. This has yet to happen.
“The COVID-19 top-up of the wages for our workers is almost free to the Alberta Government. They haven’t even given us that. We are told that Alberta Labour is negotiating and reviewing. Now, almost 3 months later, that’s not good enough. Even with the lousy wages in the sector, our workers showed up when the people we support needed them most. It’s time for the Government of Alberta to show us the money,” Denise Young, ADWA member.
ADWA is calling on Premier Kenney and the Minister of Labour and Immigration Jason Copping to commit to giving the federal Government COVID-19 top up to our workforce. It is the least they can do.
We are asking our members to continue sending letters to the Alberta government drawing attention to their personal situation.
If you are willing to profile this issue and help us to further this conversation, please contact
for additional information:
Shauna Pilipchuk, President, Alberta Disability Workers Association
Denise Young, ADWA member & past ADWA Board Director.
Phone: (403) 542-5301