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Time to find out who really cares about our elderly

Time to find out who really cares about our elderly

The lead-up to the 2014 General Election is a critical time to identify political priorities. The New Zealand Aged Care Association has collated responses from political parties on the pressing issue of underfunding for caregiver wages. The responses about their commitment to our elderly and their caregivers ranged significantly.

New Zealand First, the Green Party, Labour, the Conservative Party and United Future have all confirmed their support for achieving pay parity for caregivers in the aged care sector.

New Zealand First was the first to respond to the New Zealand Aged Care Association (NZACA) and expressed complete support for increased Government funding for caregiver wages.

“Labour and the Greens have both acknowledged the reality of the situation – that existing Government funding to the aged care sector simply does not cover what is needed to achieve pay parity,” says Martin Taylor, CEO of the New Zealand Aged Care Association. “As a result, these parties have also confirmed their support for increased Government funding for caregiver wages.”

United Future and the Conservative Party also responded with support for achieving pay parity for caregivers.

In contrast, National, who chose not to attend a recent Caring Counts Summit on the issue of caregiver wages, provided a hugely disappointing response to the NZACA on the issue.

“The National Party wrote this off as an issue between an employer and employee,” says Martin Taylor, CEO of the New Zealand Aged Care Association. “This is hugely disappointing, as this is simply not the case,” he says. “We have worked hard to communicate with the Government about current underfunding, which is resulting in a significant pay disparity – an issue which has remained unresolved for eight long years,” he says.

Caregivers working within DHB facilities receive a minimum of $17.50 per hour; over 30,000 caregivers working outside of DHB facilities receive on average only $15.31 per hour, to do the same job.

The funding requested over a three-year period equates to only 0.8% of the Government’s overall public health budget, or 11% of the surplus planned for the 2014/15 year.

“This week, more than 11,000 health workers from within DHB facilities have called for strike action over their wage rates. Wages for both DHB health workers and the aged care sector’s caregivers are directly tied to government funding. Our caregiver wage rates cannot be allowed to fall even further behind their DHB counterparts as a direct result of underfunding from our Government,” he says.

“The response from the Māori Party was also let-down,” says Taylor. “While the party outlined support for attention to minimum wages, there was no direct commitment to increasing funding for caregiver wages to achieve pay parity,” he says.

“I would urge anyone who cares about this important issue to use their vote wisely this election. If people are in a position to question our politicians on this matter, this is encouraged. Our website whocares.org.nz facilitates emailing our political parties on this important issue. We encourage everyone who cares about caregiver wages to do so,” says Taylor.

No response was received from the Internet MANA Party or from ACT.


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