The provincial government is failing to implement important Plecas report recommendations dealing with social worker wages, the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union said today.
Wage rates remain a major impediment to retaining highly trained social workers. The Plecas report shows that social worker wage rates are about 11 per cent below the national average.
The BCGEU has been working with the B.C. government on a process to implement the report recommendations on the Ministry of Children and Family Development. The recent recruitment incentive for staff in hard-to-recruit communities is a start, but doesn’t address the real issue of the need for a market wage adjustment for social workers in this ministry.
Plecas recommends significant market wage adjustments for social workers to increase retention rates. However, the ministry has indicated there is no additional funding allocated to implement the recommendation.
“We were frankly astounded at this turn of events, as it seems to be a breach in our working relationship,” says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. “The failure to fund the necessary work to implement the recommendations brings the government’s commitment to the action plan into serious doubt.”
The B.C. government appears to be moving from one scathing MCFD report to the next without implementing the elements needed to make real and lasting improvements in services to children and families.
“Social work is one of the most difficult roles in government and the recommendations contained in the Plecas report acknowledged this fact,” says Social, Information and Health vice president Doug Kinna. “However, while the government is hiring new social workers, there seems to be no real resources available to assist with retention.”
Last year the MCFD, BCGEU and the PSA held productive discussions and reached an agreement on modest lump-sum payments for social workers in hard-to-recruit or remote communities in B.C. Approximately 250 staff will be eligible for these payments, which are expected to start in April 2017.
The BCGEU believes that the B.C. government needs to address wage rates of ministry social workers to improve the longer-term recruitment and retention of highly trained social workers. The union remains available to meet with the Ministry as previously agreed, should they show a willingness to seriously address these key issues within the ministry.
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