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'We don't have staff': Community disability services workers speak up over pay, staffing issues

Community disability service workers in Edmonton say they’re not being paid enough and that without better compensation, staff will leave for other fields, putting those they care for at risk.

Almost 30 per cent of respondents to a survey by the Alberta Disability Works Association said they were working two or more jobs in order to make a living wage.

“We have families to support, our own bills to pay and our own reality. And that definitely has made an impact which is why a lot of us…we are struggling a little bit,” said community disability worker Amanda Smith.

“It would take a lot for me to leave here. But the cost of living … it makes a difference.”

The Alberta Council of Disability Services said more than half of community disability services workers make under $20 an hour with the average hourly wage sitting at $18.76.

Others in the industry say staff are already leaving for better-paying jobs elsewhere.

“This industry is in crisis. We don’t have staff,” said community disability worker Tara Hudson.

“Where are you going to find people to keep our people safe?”

Funding for direct service staff in the community disability service sector comes from the provincial government but hasn’t increased since 2014.

Minister of Community and Social Services Jason Luan said his ministry is working, “so that we can address this workforce shortage in a long-term permanent way." 

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Jessica Robb Top Stories

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