The New Brunswick government is committing close to $50 million to increase wages for the people who work with a portion of the province's vulnerable population.
Finance Minister Ernie Steeves announced a $44.9 million increase in wages for personal support workers in home support and special care homes.
An additional $9.7 million will go towards wage increases for those who work in group homes, community residences, family support and attendant care.
Steeves said New Brunswick remains one of the oldest provinces in the country and the province's population that is 65 years old or over increased by over 6,400 people in 2022.
“Current projections suggest that by 2030 this population cohort will increase by 45,000 individuals. To keep up with the growing demand for senior care, we need to be innovative in our approach,” said Steeves.
Steeves said caring for the more vulnerable members of the province’s society is an important task that’s handled by professionals in a crucial sector of the health-care system.
“We continue to face recruitment and retention issues in this sector and we need to do more to ensure our vulnerable population is properly cared for,” said Steeves.
Seniors advocate Cecile Cassista attended the budget announcement in Fredericton Tuesday and was very encouraged with what she heard.
“I have to say that the government is heading the right way and I think it's because many of us have been echoing that we need these changes,” said Cassista.
The Coalition for Seniors and Nursing Home Residents’ Rights executive director is happy seniors are being recognized.
“I think it’s very important that our health-care system improves,” said Cassista. “I am very encouraged. I came here not thinking that. I came here thinking, ‘Well, you know what, it’s just another budget,’ but certainly I have to say I have to commend all those who worked on it,” said Cassista.
Jan Seely, the president of the New Brunswick Special Care Home Association, was also very pleased to see what she called a “significant” increase in funding from past budgets.
“We have a long way to go to bring wage parity with our other parts of long-term care, to recognize the value of these employees and the hard work and the essential services they provide every day, but we are optimistic with this announcement,” said Seely.
Seely spoke from a special care home in Oromocto, N.B., and said there was a great deal of excitement among the workers there about the fact they've been recognized by the province.
“The government seems to be invested in lifting this profession up to where it needs to be and to support this sector,” said Seely.
“Without home support workers and special care home workers in particular serving this vulnerable clientele, these foundational services hold up the rest of our health-care system. So, unless we properly support this sector, we're going to see increased use of hospitals and increased need for nursing homes.”
Seely added that special care homes are the next best thing to being at home.
Watch Above Video: https://atlantic.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=2652855&jwsource=cl
Source: N.B. contributing nearly $50M in special care wages | CTV News