Mining wage

Pay rise on the horizon for Albertans who work with people with disabilities

Several years ago, Leah McRorie was forced to quit her job to care for her daughter Taisa full time.

“She’s not able to access this world on her own,” McRorie said.

“It’s incredibly difficult. My mental health has suffered a lot and if I’m not well, my daughter is not well. We struggle every day,” she said.

Taisa, now 28, was born with cerebral palsy and needs round-the-clock assistance.

“So she would need help basically from the time she wakes up to the time she goes to bed with whatever she does in her day. Her days are like yours and mine, she just needs help. help to do whatever it takes to make it happen,” McRorie said.

At one point, Taisa had as many as 13 support staff.

Taisa McRorie was born with cerebral palsy and requires 24/7 assistance. (Supplied/Leah McRorie)

“We have staff coming and going and they often have different hours and so some staff are just personal care staff if you will, so someone will come in for a three hour shift where they will accompany Taisa to take a bath, change and ready to go to bed,” McRorie said.

“And the support staff are a shadow of them, they’re just supporting them to do the things that they choose to do in their day-to-day lives that they need help with, that we all do and take for granted. days,” she added.

Over the years, McRorie says fewer and fewer support staff were available to help people with disabilities like her daughter.

“They are leaving our area,” she said. “We are understaffed because people no longer want to work in a field where they are devalued and underpaid.

According to Alberta Council Disability Services, there is a 23% turnover rate in the profession, which has not increased since 2014.

“The salary just isn’t there, it’s not attractive, and so we’re concerned about the future of our industry,” said Dale Cena, program coordinator at the Calgary SCOPE Society.

“We are currently a workforce in crisis because people are leaving the sector. They can’t pay the bills anymore because of low wages and it affects vulnerable Albertans,” Cena said.

For those still in the profession, there is now hope. In a mandate letter sent by the new premier of Alberta to her office this week, Danielle Smith clearly underlined the need for funding in this sector.

“The government is listening,” said Jeremy Nixon, Alberta Minister of Seniors, Community and Social Services. “We understand the challenges families are facing right now and want to make sure we are working with these absolutely amazing service providers to increase the supports available to families.”

A group of workers started a petition asking the government for a 25 percent wage increase. “We need a raise that is liveable,” said Cena, one of the workers behind the petition.

The minister said his department was looking at salaries in other social service sectors that are higher than the disability sectors to help come up with a figure.

“We want to make sure it’s a competitive rate, a good rate, that rewards the incredible work they do,” Nixon said.

“It’s not just a salary challenge that these organizations are facing, it’s also an administrative challenge because we haven’t seen an increase in their funding for eight years, so we know inflation has increased. over eight years, we have also seen the minimum wage increase during this period which has created additional challenges,” he added.

“I’m thrilled there’s a raise coming for them,” said McRorie, who wept when she heard the government’s pledge for disabled workers her daughter desperately needs.

“They take care of us. They take care of the disabled people we love and it’s so hard that so many people don’t understand the value they bring.

With files from Jessica Robb of CTV News Edmonton