Creating Wage Parity for Care Workers

Image credit: Ontario Nonprofit Network

The Ontario Nonprofit Network has released a new paper, Creating Wage Parity in Community Care. The report explores how the wage disparity is contributing to the labour crisis for workers providing care services in Ontario.

Across the province, workers providing community-based care are critical to healthy communities. Services such as child care, home care, gender-based violence services, drop-in and homeless supports, addictions and mental health programs, employment and training programs, and immigrant and refugee services weave together an essential care infrastructure in our province.

The pandemic highlighted for everyone how frontline care workers – predominantly racialized women – braved the risks during the pandemic despite low wages, lack of benefits, and precarious working conditions to support their families. Now, in a COVID-endemic world, many of these workers are looking to work elsewhere.

ONN finds that the wage disparity is most acute in the lowest-paid jobs in community-based care, which are most likely to be occupied by women and gender-diverse people, particularly Indigenous, Black and racialized women, and newcomers. As explained in the report, “wage equity means a change to fundamentally value care work and care work roles/those who do the work, supporting gender equity, and racial justice.”

The ONN urges a turn to collective solutions for the long-term, outlining several action items for nonprofits and government to ensure that the nonprofit care sector can recruit and retain talented workers to serve communities. Their recommendations include action to be taken by the provincial government and the nonprofit sector as a whole, such as:

  • Phasing in wage parity with annual instalments for similar groups of frontline workers across municipalities, hospitals, schools, and community settings to achieve equal pay for equal work in four years
  • Government and sector collaboration in building a comprehensive labour force strategy that bridges all aspects of care, for a resilient nonprofit workforce
  • Convening across sub-sectors to share information and align on minimum standards for wages and administrative costs for when funding opportunities and contracts arise
  • Allyship with families to help them advocate for loved ones’ care needs and demand better from the government

Learn more about the wage disparity in community care and ways to take action here.