Many workers in the disability sector are concerned about the lack of support for their staff.

According to Robin Hood Association, their staff hasn't received a raise in almost eight years.

"Our sector for our frontline staff has not had even a cost of living increase since 2014 and we're funded entirely by the government. The majority of our funds are for the direct service of staff supports and then organizations like us either have to fundraise or apply for grants and things like that to augment any shortfalls. So we're really limited on what we can spend on wages," explained AnneMarie Lepan, CEO of the Robin Hood Association.

The association serves Fort Saskatchewan and Sherwood Park, helping people with disabilities live a quality lifestyle.

In support of community disability service workers, the Alberta Disability Workers Association (ADWA) recently launched a new campaign called 'Essential but Forgotten.'

They are calling on the Alberta government to increase community disability support worker wages by 25 per cent.

In a survey conducted by ADWA in January, 90 per cent of respondents indicated they were not satisfied with their current wages and 29 per cent found it necessary to work two or more jobs to make a living wage.

"We're starting to see the decline again in having educated, strong candidates that'll come to this sector because it just does not have a living wage future. When the economy in Alberta does really well, this sector struggles to attract employees or keep them," said Lepan.

She added organizations like the Robin Hood Association across Alberta are dealing with a 23 per cent turnover rate.

"Why would you work in this sector if you can work and make more money as a waitress somewhere or with less of the impact and the professional training that you require? So it's been a bit of a vicious circle for a long time, and I know there's some advocacy that's starting to build up just to talk about the essential workforce that this is."

ADWA also shared a 2021 report which stated there are about 15,000 people employed in community disability services across the province. The average hourly wage for a direct community disability support worker is $18.76. 

Information on supporting the campaign can be found here.