Social workers getting wage hike in Chetwynd, Fort Nelson

Minister of Children and Family Development Stephanie Cadieux in Fort St. John to give her thanks to foster families and to hear their concerns in 2013. File photo

VICTORIA, B.C. – Front-line social workers with the Ministry of Children and Family Development in hard-to-recruit areas of the province will receive an additional $3,000 to $6,000 per year, after a new agreement was signed between the government and the BCGEU.

The agreement provides a $6,000 annual lump-sum payment to senior ministry social workers and a $3,000 annual payment to ministry social workers with less than two years of experience who live and work in rural or remote communities with demonstrated recruitment and retention challenges.

The list of MCFD-designated hard-to-recruit communities includes Mackenzie, Chetwynd, and Fort Nelson along with other rural communities.

The first payments under the new incentive program will be made to employees in April 2017. Location-specific incentive pay is virtually unique in the B.C. civil service.

The new pilot program is part of what the says ministry is its strategy to support employees and ensure the quality and availability of services throughout the province. As of March 31, 2016, there were 1,963 front-line social work staff positions in ministry offices throughout the province; 250 of those positions belong to social workers serving in hard-to-recruit rural and remote areas where staff retention is an issue.