Chris Wilkinson

Chris Wilkinson column: The Wild West 2.0

Caregivers are one of those careers that have needed a reckoning in value and pay

By Chris Wilkinson

Is it just me? Or does it feel like the Wild West these days to you too?

Wildfires, wildly inflating home prices, homeless addicts dominating portions of our sidewalks and disrespecting the community, global warming, terrible polarity in politics, roller coaster economy, wages changing rapidly. It’s a crazy time right now! Wild West 2.0.

Yet it’s not all bad — the wages increasing is so healthy and necessary for many careers. Caregivers are one of those careers that have needed a reckoning in value and pay. Caregivers in private home care have been paid around $17-18/hr for some time and the pandemic has helped move that ahead for caregivers. Even though the NDP government decided during the pandemic that caregivers in the private sector of home care were not worthy of the pandemic uplift, we know that they were and are. That was a terrible decision by our provincial NDP. Our caregivers are still angry and feeling undervalued.

And as an employer in private home care, it is so hard to compete to hire caregivers when everywhere else a $4/hr uplift is paid for by taxpayers’ money, through government spending, and caregivers in the private sector get left behind. We have had to increase our prices significantly to try and compete with government run facilities and public (government-funded) home care spending. It came off to us as government spending taxpayers’ money to support only government-funded roles, and not the private caregivers who pour just as much love and care and compassion into their clients/patients. Shameful. Private caregivers should have been supported too. However, we’ll do what we have to do to support our caregivers and continue to pay them closer to what they’re worth. They’re worth a whole lot more than what they’re getting too! In my opinion, there’s nothing right about a single parent (many caregivers are) who is working their tail off trying to make ends meet — parenting and working lots of hours — not being able to feel like their family’s basic needs are taken care of. That’s another example of Wild West society.

The disparity between the “haves” and the “have nots” continues to broaden. These facts are straight from the www.Oxfam.org website:

• The world’s richest one per cent have more than twice as much wealth as the other 6.9 billion people

• Almost half of humanity is living on less than $5.50 a day

• Only four cents in every dollar of tax revenue comes from taxes on the wealthy

Then I see a story on the news online today entitled, “These 11 billionaires are $660 billion richer since the start of the pandemic”, and it makes me angry. Often the rich prey on the poor to become even richer. Even taking advantage of a global pandemic. It ain’t right.

And yet, I believe it when it’s said that if the world’s wealth was evenly split up amongst all individuals, most wealth would again end up in the hands of those who own it now. Because the tricks and marketing tools and mindset needed to be greedy and rich, are mastered and carried out effectively by the greedy and rich.

Only the best of them use it for good.

I’m not sure if this problem is fixable. Capitalism, as it is currently being practiced, has led to horrible inequality. The system is designed to fortune those with wealth and to hold others down. It’s broken.

I don’t have the answer. I’m no politician either. But something needs to change. In my perfect world everyone would receive education from a young age (in elementary school!) about mindset and self-esteem, science-based health, how to deal with childhood trauma and micro-trauma, money management, independence/wealth building strategies. How to be self-sufficient. And that education would continue. Beyond school. Free of charge. With strong encouragement to continue. Incentivized.

While a true solution needs more than a paragraph can encapsulate, this would be a great start. A bold start. Taming the Wild West 2.0. Pushing our system and society toward true equality and more balance.

Being marketed to and taught our whole lives in society to chase our self-worth and value, and that what we have is not enough, is killing us. It’s destroying our world. Literally.

Chris Wilkinson is the owner/GM for Nurse Next Door Home Care Services for Cowichan and central Vancouver Island. For more info visit www.NurseNextDoor.com or for questions or a free in-home caring consult call 250-748-4357, or email Chris.Wilkinson@NurseNextDoor.com

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