EDMONTON—Who Cares Alberta, a network of community human services agencies throughout Alberta, called on the government to address their crisis in attracting and retaining staff and to not compromise the vital services to children and families in need.
"Current levels of government funding for our agencies do not allow us to pay competitive wages and retain qualified staff," says David Horricks, past president of the Alberta Association of Services for Children and Families (AASCF). "Unless the government comes up with a comprehensive plan, we will be unable to keep qualified staff and the safety of Alberta's most vulnerable children and youth will continue to be compromised."
On February 1, 2008, the AASCF, in conjunction with the Who Cares Alberta campaign, released the results of a new survey indicating that the staffing crisis faced by contract agencies in the human services sector is worsening. The survey shows that staff vacancy rates among surveyed agencies were 18.8% (620 vacancies), a significant increase over 2006.
The survey also indicated that agencies had a staggering annualized turnover rate of 38%, and that fully one-third of agencies had definite concerns about their ability to honour their contracts and another 34% were beginning to have the same concerns.
Other community organizations like the Boys and Girls Clubs and the Women’s Shelters have recently learned that they are receiving a 0 % increase in their provincial grants this year.
"Consequently, our clubs are faced with having to either review the viability of existing services, consider restricting hours, or limit registration - at current funding levels, we simply cannot serve all of the children and youth who need us," says Marie Anne Fournier, President of the Board of Directors of Boys and Girls Clubs of Alberta.
Jan Reimer, Executive Director of the Alberta Council of Women's Shelters (ACWS) says, "Without a recognition that shelter salaries need to be competitive in today's Alberta, shelters will see a continued exodus of frontline workers to less demanding jobs offering more pay, better benefits and less stress"
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The member associations of the Who Cares Alberta campaign are: Alberta Association of Services for Children and Families; Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters; Alberta College of Social Workers; Alberta Council of Disability Services; Alberta Community Council on HIV; Alberta Home Visitation Network Association; Boys and Girls Clubs of Alberta; Canadian Outcomes Research Institute, Child and Youth Care Association of Alberta; and Public Interest Alberta