SAINT JOHN (GNB) – Wage increases, effective May 1, are intended to improve recruitment and retention of workers who support some of the province’s most vulnerable residents.

These wage increases will apply to home support workers, family support workers and attendant care workers, all of whom provide the care needed to help clients live at home, independently, for as long as possible.

“We know how important the work done by these individuals is to their clients and their families,” said Social Development Minister Dorothy Shephard. “By increasing wages, we are helping the sector to recruit and retain staff and better reflect the work they do to care for those in need of their services.”

Increased wages for staff at special care homes and youth group homes will help to ensure that those unable to live in their own homes will receive the care they need in a suitable environment.

The provincial government will invest $16.1 million in this initiative. Part of the funding, which was announced in last month’s budget, will come from discontinuing the primary informal caregiver program.

“The informal caregiver program was introduced last May and, unfortunately, was not achieving the desired outcomes,” said Shephard. “That is why we have chosen to reallocate these funds to improve recruitment and retention for workers who play such an important role in our society.”

More than 9,500 workers will receive wage increases ranging from 50 cents to $2 per hour, raising the average hourly wage for all workers above $14.

“Wage investments such as these are a critical step forward in helping to ensure sustainability of services in our sector,” said Jan Seely, chair of the Human Services Coalition of New Brunswick. “For years our workers’ wages remained at or near minimum wage. This increase helps widen that gap and will undoubtedly have an impact on our recruitment and retention rates. In addition to improved wages, we are working on standardizing education and training in order to create a viable career path to recruit younger workers.”