“Our members continue to deliver public health care and social care services throughout the pandemic and other crises, and under extremely challenging circumstances. They have come to be seen as heroes. And they deserve this recognition and our thanks, but they also deserve decent work. That means investment in quality public and social services, which will benefit us all.” — Larry Brown, NUPGE President
Ottawa (26 Oct. 2021) — Public Services International (PSI), of which NUPGE is an affiliate, is organizing a Global Day of Action on Care on October 29. There will be a series of events and actions that people can take to call for investing in quality public services and decent work for care workers.
Care is a central part of life
The COVID-19 pandemic highlights the central place of care in our lives. Governments have to adequately fund care and protect the workers who deliver care services. PSI defines care workers as all workers across the care and health sectors, whether in the formal or informal economy, including domestic workers.
“Our members continue to deliver public health care and social care services throughout the pandemic and other crises, and under extremely challenging circumstances,” said Larry Brown, NUPGE President. “They have come to be seen as heroes. And they deserve this recognition and our thanks, but they also deserve decent work. That means investment in quality public and social services, which will benefit us all.”
Pandemic exposed impact of decades of under investment
The majority of care workers are women, and many are racialized or migrant workers. The working lives of care workers have been characterized by long hours, lack of access to personal protective equipment (PPE) and other health and safety measures, physical, emotional and mental exhaustion, poor working conditions, and low wages.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed how decades of under-investment in public health and care systems have severely affected the quality, accessibility, and safety of health and care services. The pandemic has also deepened pre-existing structural inequalities across lines of gender, class, race and ethnicity, and ability.
Governments must act
There is an urgent need for adequate public investment to achieve universal quality public health and care. Governments need to ensure social care services are provided as a fundamental human right and a public good that is universally accessible.
This will require adequate numbers of fairly paid and protected care workers. In 2016, the UN High-Level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth projected a global shortfall of 18 million health and care workers.
Workers across the health and care sectors, whether working in hospitals, home care, long-term care homes, schools, child care, group homes, etc., deserve improved working conditions that reflect their enormous contributions to society. They deserve fair and equal pay for work of equal value.
People can participate in the Global Day of Action by calling on their governments to invest in care and ensure decent work for care workers. This means
- investing in universal quality public health and care;
- ensuring decent adequate wages and improvement in working conditions;
- ensuring equity and non-discrimination in recruitment, retention,
- access to training and promotion opportunities;
- ensuring accessibility for all to quality public health and care services, regardless of status; and more.
Learn more about the demands here.
Suggested actions, such as writing a letter to your government, sharing stories or graphics on social media, or showing solidarity with care workers, are available on the PSI website. PSI will also be organizing a series of virtual meetings for affiliates.