Moncton, N.B. – January 5, 2021 – UFCW Canada is calling on the Higgs government to finally do the right thing by stopping its 5-month exclusion of essential eldercare workers from a federally funded wage top-up program.
Despite working around the clock to clean retirement and long-term care homes, help feed the elderly, and ensure bed linens are washed in accordance with public health standards, a relatively small number of essential workers at third-party eldercare facilities in New Brunswick continue to be cut-out from the subsidy program since it was first “extended” in July 2020.
“Why these essential workers would be left out in the cold like this doesn’t make any sense to us, and I’m sure it won’t make much sense to the people of New Brunswick – especially for folks who have aging parents and other loved ones in these homes,” says Mark Dobson, UFCW Canada Regional Director for the Eastern Provinces.
“The province received this money from Ottawa to better support frontline heroes who are providing critical services throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The program was established precisely for this purpose, so it is strange that the Higgs government insists on excluding these essential workers. Adding to the confusion and inequity of the situation in New Brunswick is the fact that other provinces have included these roles as part of their top-up programs,” adds Dobson.
UFCW represents approximately 80 members impacted by the exclusion, who work as cooks, cleaners, and laundry attendants in the province’s third-party eldercare facilities. The union has discussed the matter with Bruce Fitch, Minister of Social Development, but the government has yet to provide a compelling reason for the exclusion and why it should stand. UFCW is now calling on members of the public – especially those with loved ones currently at one of the effected homes – to ask their respective MLAs why the critical contributions of these essential eldercare workers are being ignored.
“For too long, the essential efforts of cleaners and food service workers have been undervalued by employers and governments, and this exclusion by the Hicks government is the latest example. In addition to meeting the day-to-day needs of our elders – some of whom are veterans – our eldercare members have dedicated the last nine months of their lives putting themselves in harm’s way to prevent outbreaks and help care for the most vulnerable members of our society. They deserve better, and the New Brunswick government can still do the right thing,” adds Dobson.