Home care workers and clients across Minnesota continued their call for Minnesota lawmakers to take action on the bipartisan bill that would provide an emergency wage and benefit increase for the workers who care for Minnesota seniors and people with disabilities.

The legislation would provide a 15% temporary rate increase during the COVID-19 pandemic and would help tens of thousands of families across the state. A bill was passed off the floor of the Minnesota House as a priority of the House DFL and a similar Senate bill had bipartisan support. Home care workers are overwhelmingly women and many are Black and people of color. Currently many home care workers make only $13.25 to do this critical work.

Home care workers and clients were frustrated by the inability to pass this commonsense bill during the regular session and are calling on legislators to prioritize this important bill during the special session.

St. Paul home care client Brittanie Wilson shared why this increase would be so helpful to people with disabilities and seniors across the state who rely on home care workers to stay safely in their homes.

“Now, more than ever, we need our elected leaders to do what is right and pass this emergency increase to help support Minnesotans across the state who rely on home care to stay safely in our homes,” said Wilson. “An increase in wages during this crucial time will have a huge impact on this industry – not only for PCAs, but for clients too. Higher wages will allow me to retain and recruit more staff who I’m relying on more and more for these critical services in order to stay home.”

Deb Howze, a home care worker and member of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota who participated in a “Walk-A-Day” with Governor Walz last winter to highlight the important work done every day by home care workers, demanded action from lawmakers.

“With everything that has happened over the last few months, home care workers continue to put ourselves and our families at risk to make sure seniors and people with disabilities across our state can safely stay in their homes. Even with everything going on, we are doing this hard work, with many workers still making as low as $13.25 per hour. During the legislative session we appreciated the words of support for our work from the Governor and elected officials from both parties in the House and Senate talking about how this work desperately needs to see a pay increase, but we’ve heard enough talk. We need action,” said Howze. “Minnesotans who are struggling need our leaders to use the special session to pass this bill to show they care about seniors, people with disabilities and the workers who help keep them safely in their homes.”

The proposed increase would help address the state’s care crisis. Prior to the pandemic, there was a shortage of thousands of home care workers for all the Minnesotans who need them, due to the low wages and lack of benefits for this critical work. The COVID-19 pandemic has made that shortage far worse, leaving many seniors and people with disabilities without the care they need to remain safely in their homes.

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