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Bill would increase wages for direct care workers

Advocates say the 125% increase is necessary to keep people in direct care jobs

AUGUSTA, Maine — A bill introduced to the Maine Legislature Monday is aimed at combating the workforce shortage in long-term care facilities and home care employees. One of the ways advocates said this could be done is a 125 percent increase in pay for care workers.

"I have to work overtime just to make bills," Kaitlyn Reynolds, a direct care worker in Bangor said.

She added that she works anywhere from 12 to 30 hours of overtime a week to make ends meet.

"Two and a half years ago we had to condemn the family home we were living in because the repairs were too much. Now we're renting a trailer," she said.

State Rep. Jessica Fay, D-Raymond, is sponsoring a bill to implement recommendations created in 2019 to better support long-term care and home care employees and encourage other people to apply for these kinds of jobs that are in dire need right now. Those in favor of this bill, like executive director of the Maine Council on Aging, Jess Maurer, told NEWS CENTER Maine this isn't a new problem.

"What we call essential care workforce shortage and it's a shortage that's been growing for about a decade," Maurer said.

"Specifically we're supporting it because it will raise the essential Mainecae rates for minimum wages," Laura Cordes, executive director of Maine Association for Community Service Providers, said.

Reynolds said the 125 percent increase is a start but it's still a challenge to work these jobs. Those in favor of this bill say they hope they can make changes to the wages soon, as more and more people find themselves in need of either in-home care or a long-term care facility.