The Country Can Afford to Pay Aged Care Workers a Decent Wage

Alliance co leader Kevin Campbell says he is outraged at John Key’s comment on Breakfast TV that the country doesn’t have the money to pay aged care workers a decent wage.

“It is simply not true. The extra $140 million a year it would take is peanuts compared to the $74 billion odd a year the government spends in total.

The country does have the money. What Mr Key is really saying is that decent wages for the people who care for our elderly is not a priority.”

Our elderly deserve the best care available.They have worked hard all their lives and paid their taxes – at a far higher rate than National is making people pay today. They deserve to be treated with dignity in their old age, not seen as a burden on society. They shouldn’t have to feel guilty that care workers looking after them do not earn enough to live on. When you disrespect the aged care workers you disrespect our elderly.

And, looking at the wider picture, paying aged care workers a decent wage benefits the whole country. Money spent on care workers will boost the economy. It will put money back into local businesses. Even with the pay rises care worker rates would only be about $18 – $20 an hour, this is not a big wage and most care workers will spend all of it locally on day to day expenses. It will also put pressure on other low waged industries to raise their wages to attract staff, increasing the tax take and lessening the need for government subsidies for low earners.

The Alliance says it is time to get your priorities right Mr Key. Make paying aged care workers a decent wage a top priority. And find the money to do it. If all else fails you could always reverse the tax cuts you gave high earners in 2010.