Council of Canadian Child and Youth Care Associations
|All rights reserved Council of Canadian Child and Youth Care Associations/Garth Goodwin 1995-2011
|Manitoba Rallies for Wages
"Child and Youth Care Workers continuously work with
and advocate for children and youth that have often been
seen as disposable. We step in as other systems begin
"Child and Youth Care Workers continuously work with
relationships with children and youth that are often
resistant to the relationships we offer. Yet, Child and
Youth Care Workers are the often unseen and
unsupported group of professionals that with within the
human services field. This rally is more than advocating
to be seen as professionals and be compensated
accordingly with wages. It is also advocating for our
children and youth who deserve the best care that our
province has to offer."
Jessica Lusk, President Child and Youth Care Workers
Association of Manitoba
Manitoba. Executive Director for MYS, Erma Chapman, Senior Youth Care Worker, Melanie Wight
and Senior Youth Care Worker, Jessica Lusk, also from MYS spoke to the few hundred who turned
out on a cold and overcast morning, May 3, 2010. Each spoke of different aspects of the issue.
Melanie Wright noted the 24/7/365 aspect of child and youth care work and perhaps because of that
choose bus drivers for a comparison regarding wages asking why driving a bus earns 15 thousand
dollars more annually than those who work with youth at risk, something that involves a complex
number of skills from home care through to crisis management. She also noted the fifty dollar
disparity between federal and provincial rates for services for youth in care.
Jessica Lusk focused on the unseen and unheard quality of child and youth care work and asked
the province to provide the best care for its wards. She noted that this work often demands that its
practitioners hold down another job in order to do this work.
Erma Chapman noted that while this was initially an MYS event, it had attracted a few hundred
people from all professional levels and from many agencies, schools and facilities who work within
the child and youth care system in Manitoba. For this writer, familiar faces from over the years were
everywhere, most being core child and youth care people who had committed to the work on a
lifelong career basis. When MLA, Doug Martindale spoke on behalf of the Minister, noting the
important work child and youth care workers do and announcing a working group on wages, which
was well received.
My thoughts turned to starting in youth care work in the mid seventies. At that time, the salary scale
was roughly equal to those of my peers in education. The top of the scale then was just a few
hundred dollars shy of what was then paid to the Members of the Manitoba Legislature for their
salary portion. This was very motivating and confirming of the demands being made upon us as
professional Treatment Workers, as the title was at that time. A full working career on, the disparity
between youth care and provincial MLA's, let alone teachers who also have clear education/salary
career ladders to follow; is almost too extreme to even contemplate. For many, the need to simply
have a living wage roughly equal with the social norms, means leaving the front line of child and
youth care work for sister professions or administrative roles. It became more and more curious to
me that those who take care of the other twenty three hours in the lives of youth at risk have to do so
knowing they are making a choice for passion and purpose over material comfort. When Google
maps came out a group of us were looking up each other's homes and time and time again they
were noticeably modest. Characteristically, all agreed that was all you need, accepting the situation
as a fact of life. It should be better and even more it should be roughly similar right across the
country where there are similar disparities within the profession. Perhaps, events like this rally may
inspire others to demand compensation that recognizes the sacrifices made and skills required to
do child and youth care work.
Garth Goodwin - Editor
CYCWAM sat on the advisory committee regarding wages. The committee has released the report: Recruitment and Retention of Manitoba Youth Care Practitioners, May
2011.The report reflects the care and consideration all involved brought to the table with a comprehensive analysis and series of recommendations which outline a five year
process to address wages at both front line and administrative support services, each of which share in this unfortunate situation. Reports like this often find themselves placed
on shelves and quite forgotten. It will remain vital for those who support this initiative to continue to do so going forward. Please use the link provided above to read the report in
PDF format. (Note, this is a large file and may take some time to load)
Rally. While the turnout was not as large as was hoped, those who did attend came with a great amount of enthusiasm to support the cause. The rally was attended by a mix of
frontline workers, management and educators. Unfortunately there was a lack of political and media support and, admittedly, this was disappointing considering the
seriousness of the wage issue Child and Youth Care Practitioners (CYCP) and our “systems” face.
Several speeches addressed the current crisis facing the children, youth and families who are affected by the wages of CYCP. Current wages are clearly linked to high turnover
rates in the field, as many individuals leave Child and Youth Care work to go to other professions. Many of these losses are highly skilled, educated individuals who are so
valuable to the field. As well, the impact that low wages has on Child and Youth Care workers and their own families was addressed. As was pointed out, many CYCP have to
take on two jobs to make ends meet for themselves and their children.
On a positive note, the Rally was much more than a place to voice our concerns regarding wages. It was a place to once again connect with other Child and Youth Care
Practitioners in the field. It provided opportunities for networking, dialoguing and joining together in order to continue moving forward. Again, thank you to those who attended
and all are encouraged to make a conscious effort to attend the next rally. In fact not only should we make the effort to attend, all who attended are challenged to bring at least
one (or several) new people to the next Rally. It is only as we continue to band together that change will be able to take place. As a board, we remain committed to working hard
on the issue of increasing Child and Youth Care wages in Manitoba.
CYCWAM Board Member