B.C. Social Development Minister Shane Simpson. (B.C. government)

B.C. Social Development Minister Shane Simpson. (B.C. government)

B.C. NDP avoids questions about $40M union-only assistance fund

MLAs push for answers about social service ‘low-wage redress’

B.C. NDP cabinet ministers avoided questions Tuesday about what opposition MLAs called a “forced unionization” strategy across the province’s community social services contractors.

The NDP government negotiated a $40 million “low wage redress” fund for employees in community social services last year, in addition to the standard two-per-cent pay increase offered to most provincial unions in each of the next three years. That money is expected to fund an additional four per cent pay increase for qualifying workers, but only those represented by unions.

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson tabled letters to Finance Minister Carole James from two organizations representing hundreds of social services agencies. Tanya Behardien, president of the Federation of Community Social Services of B.C., wrote that member agencies are already struggling and “the widened gap in wages will continue to create employment barriers that many will not be able to overcome.”

Wilkinson read from a letter sent March 15 by Brenda Gillette of the of the B.C. CEO Social Services Leadership Network, predicting that “non-union agencies will be unable to recruit or retain skilled employees” to provide services for children, families, people with intellectual disabilities and Indigenous communities.

READ MORE: BCGEU first to settle with NDP government

READ MORE: Caregivers for developmentally disabled get increase

James replied in question period by saying the B.C. Liberals provided no budget increase for community social services in 2010 or 2011. Social Development Minister Shane Simpson said: “We’re working with that sector. We’re rebuilding that system. It’s working. We’re proud of that.”

B.C. Liberal mental health critic Jane Thornthwaite said half of the social services providers in B.C. are non-union.

“This discrimination is a blatant attempt at forced unionization,” Thornthwaite said.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Peter Flynn sits at the piano at a Christmas concert. Flynn retired at the end of 2020 and sat down with The Standard to reflect on his long career in the Hope area. (Photo/Peter Flynn)
EXTENDED INTERVIEW: Coquihalla’s longtime elementary school teacher retires

Peter Flynn reflects on decades as a teacher in Hope, teaching at school he went to as a child

Two teens were sent to hospital after being stabbed Saturday evening. (Shane MacKichan photo)
Two teens stabbed in Abbotsford

20-year-old man has been detained

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. (Graeme Roy/The Canadian Press)
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of Feb. 28

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Alina Durham, mother of Shaelene Bell, lights candles on behalf of Bell’s two sons during a vigil on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO and PHOTOS: Candlelight vigil for Shaelene Bell of Chilliwack sends message of hope

Small group of family, friends gathered to shine light for 23-year-old mother missing for four weeks

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Judith Uwamahoro is Black, approximately 4’7″ tall, 80 pounds and has short black hair and brown eyes. (Surrey RCMP handout)
UPDATED: Lower Mainland 9-year-old located after police make public plea

Judith Uwamahoro went missing Friday at around 4 p.m. in Surrey

Five-year-old Nancy Murphy wears a full mask and face shield as she waits in line for her kindergarten class to enter school during the COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday, September 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Variant of concern linked to COVID-19 outbreak at three Surrey schools

Cases appear to be linked to community transmissions, but schools will remain open

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Most Read