Downtown Eastside groups pay staff what they’re worth
As someone who is involved in the work of the Downtown Eastside, I agree that more transparency is needed in the operation of nonprofits [“ DTES rescue is big business”, May 24-31]. However, basing criticism wholly on employee wages is nearsighted and uninformed.
The sociopolitical context of the DTES is complex and well documented. Substance use, poverty, mental illness, violence, trauma…all of these heavily stigmatized areas are underfunded, which has left nonprofits to fill in the gaps of an unjust and discriminatory health and social system.
The wages of high-earning nonprofit employees are reflective of their invaluable knowledge of the neighbourhood, many years of experience, and often advanced education. Working in such a vulnerable community demands these credentials. Additionally, many of the employees of these nonprofits are professionals who are paid in accordance with unionized collective-bargaining agreements.
WISH Drop-In Centre Society should be commended for its financial prudence, but it needs to be acknowledged that this organization relies heavily on unpaid volunteers who run a majority of its operations.
Employees working in the Downtown Eastside should be fairly compensated for their work, as they would be in any other industry. Unfortunately, articles like this continue to perpetuate stigma and community distrust.
> Jasmine McEachern / Vancouver