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Caregiver pay in spotlight

Impending cuts to services for the disabled has prompted a new campaign by an Alberta public interest organization.

Impending cuts to services for the disabled has prompted a new campaign by an Alberta public interest organization.

On Thursday, Public Interest Alberta launched “Who Cares? Alberta” to lobby the provincial government to initiate a three-year social infrastructure plan.

Their primary area of interest is ensuring that people with developmental disabilities have access to competent caregivers, explains Bill Moore-Kilgannon, the executive director of Public Interest Alberta. Earning near minimum wage, caregivers for the disabled are often tempted by better paying jobs in other sectors.

The province announced that these caregivers will not receive a pay increase as was initially budgeted, but will instead receive a one-time bonus.

“The fact that we couldn’t increase the wages to a full five per cent this year, doesn’t mean that the services for persons with developmental disabilities would be any less,” said MLA Mary Anne Jablonski, the minister for seniors and community supports. “We are working within the budget restraints that we have. ”

Despite the province’s pledge to institute bonuses for caregivers, families whose children are disabled still struggle to find adequate support. Indeed, the stresses of day-to-day life hinders these families from advocating for themselves.

“You are trying to stand up and speak but every time you turn around the government is pushing you back down again,” said Lorrie Baer, the mother of two children with disabilities. “

For (those) caring for these kids their whole lives, we have no energy to say ‘Let’s try to do something.’”

 
 
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