Sudbury MPP Jamie West has introduced a bill to permanently raise the wage floor for personal support workers.
“Many people think Ontario has a shortage of PSWs. The reality is that Ontario has a shortage of non-precarious, fair-paying PSW jobs,” West said. “PSWs enter this field because they care about people and have a vocation to help. It’s shameful many of them have to leave the profession they love because they can’t afford to make ends meet.”
West this week tabled legislation to raise the wages of PSWs.
“(Premier) Doug Ford has an opportunity with this bill to set things right with some of our frontline heroes, who have worked so hard and sacrificed so much to keep our loved ones safe,” he noted. “The Ford government can raise the wage floor for all PSWs, regardless of their sector, and make sure they aren’t paying out of their own pockets to travel from client to client.”
West was joined by two local PSWs, Darla Fiset and Tracy Rudiger. He said many shared their stories, but some were “unable to attend this press conference because they are working, afraid of reprisal, or just too burnt out to participate. We are here for you.”
West’s bill, Support Workers Pay Act was proposed to resolve the poor working conditions and inequalities he said many PSWs face on the job. The bill urgently and permanently adds the temporary PSW pandemic pay to the minimum pay of support workers and requires that they are paid per kilometre travelled between work sites.
“The public would be shocked to hear our stories. We have been fighting like this for too long and we need help,” Rudiger, a Sudbury-based PSW, said. “This sort of thing was happening long before COVID. I cannot believe governments continue to keep our suffering a secret. I had to leave home care because I couldn’t afford it. I had higher insurance premiums and more frequent car maintenance, and my travel costs were too high. Jamie West’s bill is good news for the women who work in home care.”
The bill also calls on the minister of long-term care to develop programs to provide training, education and professional development for all support workers and long-term care staff that provide care. The bill demands the ministry recruit and retain the number of support workers required to deliver adequate and appropriate care; and to ensure support workers are paid while learning on the job.
The act also establishes the Support Worker Wage Review Commission so that PSW wages are regularly reviewed and do not fall backwards in the future.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath committed in her long-term care and home care platform to raise PSW wages by $5 per hour if elected in 2022, and to turn part-time and temp PSW jobs into full-time careers.