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Increased wages coming for disability, shelter, family violence workers across province

The Government of Alberta is promising increased wages for more than 20,000 front-line social support staff through increased financial support.

The province is giving an additional $26 million towards disability, shelter, and family violence workers, which the province said is the first funding increase in eight years.

Of the money promised, $2 million will be going directly towards operating costs for disability organizations in what Ministry of Seniors, Community and Social Services Jeremy Nixon said would be “keeping the lights on and our doors open.”

“Since 2014, funding for the disability service providers have remained stagnant, making it tough for organizations to find room in their budget to provide for their dedicated staff,” he said.

“Since then, we have seen an increase in costs in virtually everything. rent, utilities, groceries insurance, they have all gone up nationwide, leading to staffing crisis in some of our provinces most vital sectors, such as the disability sector due to a lack of competition compared to other lines of work.”

The province said that the funding would be coming this year.

They said that approximately 19,500 disability support workers, 1,000 homeless shelter workers, and 175 family violence prevention workers would be among those supported by the budget increase.

Government responds to petition by advocates

Ryan Geake, CEO for the Calgary Scope Society and a board member for the Alberta Council of Disability Services, said that this increase was the culmination of much work done by advocates. The Alberta council represents 145 organizations and employs more than 15,000 of the workers being supported by the increase.

“70 per cent of our members this year were projecting a deficit because of inflationary costs that none of us had any control over, but this money into our sector will again help our organizations be really viable and effective doing the kinds of work that we’re all proud of doing,” Geake said.

He called the announcement was something that could be moved forward on, and be proud of.

Dale Cena, founder of Alberta Disability Awareness in Action, said that he was moved by what began with a petition launched by disability workers eight months prior.

“If anyone was to tell me eight months ago that what started out as a petition launched by a handful of disability workers would result in this, I would never believed that,” Cena said.

“We are grateful to you, to the 1000s of Albertans, who supported us today as a result of your hard work and determination whether or not you’re a disability worker, we hope you understand just how much of a difference your efforts have made.”