April 22, 2009
FREDERICTON (CNB) - New investments are being made in the province's home support program to improve services for seniors and home support workers. Brian Kenny, minister of state for seniors, made the announcement while releasing his department's budget estimates.
"Home support is a key element in the province's long-term care strategy, Be Independent. Longer," said Kenny. "The government recognizes home support is a priority for seniors, and it is instrumental for the sustainability of the long-term care system. At the same time, we are working to address retention and recruitment of home support workers."
In 2009-10, $1.6 million will be made in continued investments to improve access to long-term care services, such as enhanced special-care home beds and subsidized home support services. About 4,500 seniors use the home support program.
An additional $2.2 million will go toward an increase in the hourly rate paid to home support agencies, to $14.26 per hour from $13.61 per hour, retroactive to April 1. This increase will be used to improve workers' wages and benefits.
The government and the New Brunswick Home Support Association have agreed to form a steering committee and working group to address ongoing issues about compensation, working conditions, training and education for home support workers. To begin this initiative, the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour will invest $100,000 in 2009-10.
Effective Oct. 1, the government will increase the transportation allowance for home support workers to four per cent from three per cent (based on hours worked) for urban areas and to five per cent from four per cent (based on hours worked) for rural areas. These increases represent another $240,000 investment in home support in this fiscal year. These are the first travel allowance increases since 2005.
Under the Wage Gap Initiative, the government has undertaken a pay equity exercise for home support workers in collaboration with the Home Support Association. This initiative will benefit the estimated 2,000 women employed by home support agencies. Recommendations on pay equity in the sector are expected to be submitted to government this fiscal year.
Effective May 1, home support agencies will receive support from the government to implement an initial two-hour assessment for matching clients with individual home support workers. The establishment of the initial assessment will ensure seniors' needs are met and workers are placed in home situations suited to their physical capabilities.
MEDIA CONTACT: Judy Cole, communications, Seniors Services, 506-444-3522.