In February, B.C.’s Children and Family Development Minister Katrine Conroy announced B.C.’s first increase in pay in 10 years for people caring for developmentally disabled children and adults. (Hansard TV)

Community Living B.C. workers ratify new labour deal

Three-year deal covers 600 workers across B.C. who support adults with developmental disabilities.

Nearly 600 members of the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union who work for the provincial crown agency that provides support and services to adults with developmental disabilities, have voted in favour of a new collective agreement.

The unionized workers, who work for Community Living B.C., voted 89 per cent in favour of the new deal Nov. 25 after negotiations wrapped up Oct. 17. The previous contract expired Nov. 1.

The new deal, which covers workers in communities across the province, including in the Okanagan, takes effect immediately and will run until March 31, 2022. About 60 CLBC workers are located in Penticton.

“This was a challenging round of negotiations, but we’ve achieved progress on key issues identified by our members,” said Judy Fox-McGuire, vice-president of the BCGEU’s social, information and health component.

One of the key issues for the union was the need for what it called an “understandable” collective agreement. According to the union, the previous deal was an unpolished amalgamation of three agreements created in 2005 when the work of CLBC was removed from direct government.

As a result, the last contract contained repetitive articles and outdated terminology that made it challenging for workers to use, said Fox-McGuire.

READ MORE: B.C. caregivers to get increase for housing developmentally disabled

Another key was addressing workload issues as well as recruitment and retention challenges for specific roles.

“As the demand for CLBC’s services has increased, so have the demands on our members who work frontline supporting clients,” said Stephanie Smith, BCGEU president. “I’m glad we’ve found common ground with the employer and achieved an agreement that balances the clients’ need for access to care and our members’ need for fair workload and compensation.”

The three-year collective agreement includes a two per cent annual wage increase for the term of the agreement, and a one-time payment related to savings from the province’s elimination of MSP premiums.

The BCGEU represents most employees at CLBC, including social workers, facilitators, analysts, and administrative workers. CLBC receives funding from the provincial government to provide services to more than 20,000 individuals with significant demands for support and services.

The BCGEU is one of the largest unions in B.C., with more than 79,000 members.

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