AUPE says budget puts social workers in a double bind when they’re needed the most
Every year, Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) members honour social work week, which runs from March 2 to 8.
“AUPE is proud to have our 2,000 social workers in our union family. The care and the community-mindedness they show everyday is at the heart of solidarity.”
This year, Gostola says now more than ever it’s important we recognize the crucial role these professionals play in times of economic crisis after the UCP’s job-killing budget dropped just three days ago.
“If it wasn’t clear already, Budget 2020 confirmed whom the UCP care about. And I can tell you right now, it’s not the vulnerable and the working class.”
While profitable corporations will get a $4.7-billion tax handout over the course of Premier Kenney’s term, Albertans who rely on community and social services, such as disability and employment services, financial supports, protection against family violence and homeless services are set to see their supports gutted.
According to budget 2020, the operating budget for community and social services is only rising 2%, meaning it will fail to keep up with Alberta’s 3.6% increase in population plus inflation growth. An estimated 136 full-time equivalent (FTEs) are set to be axed in the department.
Gostola says this will put AUPE’s 2,000 social workers who work in community and social services in a double bind.
“At the same time the UCP are driving Albertans into joblessness, they’re reducing the very social services one seeks when they fall on tough economic times. What’s worse? They haven’t committed to hiring more social workers to absorb the shock of the unmitigated disaster they’re creating. This will mean bigger workloads for fewer staff who are already breaking under their caseloads.”
Social workers are particularly vulnerable to burnout and post-traumatic stress Gostola adds, and over the last few years, AUPE’s members who work in the field, with the help of members in all sectors, have been raising awareness about the stresses they shoulder from their experiences on the frontlines.
“Between this cut and the devastating changes the UCP have made to children’s support services, where our union’s other social workers work, we’re past the point of raising awareness. We’re under attack, and we’re fighting back.”