SAINT PAUL – Home care workers and clients across Minnesota criticized inaction by Minnesota lawmakers following news that the bill that would have provided an emergency wage and benefit increase for the workers who care for Minnesota seniors and people with disabilities was not passed in the final hours of the 2020 legislative session.
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 and clients criticized the inaction and called for legislators to prioritize this important bill during the upcoming June special session.
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 when they return in June.
“Home care workers are on the front line, putting ourselves and our families at risk, all to make sure our clients can stay safely in their homes. In addition to Gov. Walz speaking out about the need for higher pay for our essential work when he worked with me, legislators from both parties mentioned many times in discussing the bill that large wage and benefit increases for Minnesota’s home care workforce are long overdue. Enough talk. We need action,” said Howze. “Minnesotans who are struggling need legislators to use the June 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.