June 14th, 2024

Provincial union says caregiver support increases were overdue and not enough

By Medicine Hat News on June 8, 2024.

newsdesk@medicinehatnews.com@MedicineHatNews

AUPE says that while a recently announced adjustment to caregiver rates is nice, it fails to tackle a crisis in the care of vulnerable children.

A recent provincial announcement said that Alberta is adjusting various caregiver rates, effective June 1.

“This will benefit almost 7,000 caregivers across the province and the 10,000 children, youth and young adults they care for and ensure they can continue to provide stable and loving homes for vulnerable children and youth who need a safe place to stay,” said the province.

Temporary and permanent caregivers have received increases of 4.2 per cent in June to basic maintenance rates, skill fees, as well as babysitting and relief per diems.

This increase is overdue, said AUPE vice-president Sandra Azocar, who noted that families that take in children who have suffered trauma, abuse or neglect haven’t had an increase in government funding since 2012.

“The government has not addressed the problems faced by the countless government workers involved in supporting and managing foster and kinship-care cases,” said Azocar.

AUPE says the government is hiring people with lower qualifications and at a lower pay rate under a program called the Growth Model Series, and then expects already overworked case managers to train and mentor them. These new workers, said Azocar, are being pushed into situations they haven’t been trained to handle.

“Foster and kinship care families need more support from properly trained staff,” says Azocar. “Unfortunately, the excessive workloads are driving people away from working in the care sector, with more quitting or being forced to take sick leave.”

“It’s time for the government to abandon its short-sighted hiring practices and hire enough staff with the necessary skills to do this vital work. If they fail to do so, it is the children and their carers who will pay the price.”

“(It’s) a problem not just for the workers, but for the children and the carers,” said AUPE.

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