Healthcare aides finally have 1st contract

The new 4-year contract has a 2% wage increase. And that’s not per year.

In November 2019, a majority of the 40 health care aides employed by Bayshore Home Care out of Strathmore voted in favour of joining local 401 of the United Commercial and Food Workers.

Since then, Bayshore has dragged their feet on negotiating a fair first contract. In fact, the two parties went to mediation after just two months of bargaining, according to data provided by the Ministry of Jobs, Economy, and Trade. Mediation lasted for over a year and a half.

The mediator recommendations resulted in the health care aides receiving a 4-year contract with wage freezes in the first two years and a 1% increase in each of the final two years.

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To be fair, these workers will get 1% lump sum payments in each of the first two years, based on hours worked, and it’s retroactive, so they’ll get something.

The problem with lump sum payments, however, is that it keeps your base salary at the same level, so when the wage increase actually takes effect in 2021, it’s based on 2018 wages, not 2020 wages.

Take a look at these starting wages from the contract, for example:

Community HCA$17.25$17.25$17.25$17.42$17.59
Lodge HCA$17.63$17.63$17.63$17.80$17.98

As you can see, the base wage remains the same for the first two years, and the wage increase in 2021 is based on the wages in 2018, not in 2020. And that means that the 1% increase seen in 2021 is actually 0.33% per year when averaged over the 3 years after 2018.

Let’s compare that 0.33% average increase to inflation in the province each year.

November 20190.33%2.1%
November 20200.33%1.3%
November 20210.33%4.3%
Note: the wage increases add up to 0.99% because you can’t evenly divide 1 by 3.

As you can see, the wage increase in 2021 is nowhere close enough to cover the increase in inflation of any one year, let alone all 3 put together.

Lump sum payments hold back workers economically. The employer and the mediator are complicit in perpetuating unaffordability for these workers.

The contract, as listed on Alberta Labour Relations’ website, did not include any articles for shift premiums, for holidays that are considered paid holidays, for paid leave (such as sick leave, bereavement leave, and so on), pension, or health benefits.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent queer journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news articles, focusing on politics and labour.

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