Second deadline for PSW Registry is cancelled – for now

Let’s be clear: there is no present deadline for anybody to get on the Personal Support Worker (PSW) Registry. Employers may be setting their own deadline, but this is not coming from the PSW Registry itself.

There was a deadline of April 1, 2013 for the home and community care sector. On March 14th a letter was sent out informing employers that this deadline was no more. This is the second time the deadline for that sector has fallen by the wayside. Originally the home care sector was to have registered by the end of last August, but too few PSWs actually did that.

There was never any registration deadline for PSWs working in other health care sectors.

Without any enforcement mechanism, the April 1st deadline is pointless. At present there is no penalty for public employers wishing to hire someone to do the work of a PSW who isn’t on the Registry.

According to the PSW Registry, at this time registration is totally voluntary.

The Registry has been the subject of some controversy since being announced with much fanfare late last spring by Health Minister Deb Matthews.

The PSW Registry was supposed to give PSWs recognition, connect clients to PSWs, weed out abuse and help with human resources planning. Some said it was  a stepping stone towards a professional college (a stepping stone no other professional group has had to go through). The devil was going to be in the details – something Matthews neglected to resolve before standing in the legislature to launch it.

The Registry was also contrary to the recommendations of the Health Professionals Advisory Committee (HPRAC) which instead suggested the government should focus on improved PSW education and training, staffing and supervision.

Many of the key issues we wrote about last summer have still not been resolved.

There is no enforcement. The PSW Registry has no legislative authority to participate in a disciplinary process, especially as they are not employers (although it is run by an employer organization – the Ontario Community Support Association). The PSW Registry states it does not receive complaints. As a result there is no process by which a PSW can be removed from the registry, including those charged with abuse (something the Registry says they are still working on). There is no date for grandfathering PSWs who have experience but no formal PSW training.

Some labour organizations have raised concerns over how much information will be accessible to the public. At present the website will only allow visitors to discover if a person is registered, what their registration number is, the date of registry, and the last time that information was updated. You need either the person’s name (first or last) or their registration number to find them. There is no big scroll of PSW names.

According to PSW Registry staff, individuals seeking to hire PSWs who are not public sector employers will have access to more information – including whether the PSW has a certificate, specialized skills, availability and where they are willing to work (by LHIN). They will not have access to personal contact information. Instead registrants interested in looking for work will have a Registry e-mail set up as contact information for potential employers.

Last year the discussion was tilting towards reversing the process for employment – having employers post job availability on the site and letting interested PSWs respond. There is a form for employers to post such information, but there is no visible and public employment board yet.

We are told that while the PSW Registry Steering Committee no longer exists, many of the people from it are now working on specific committees to try to resolve the outstanding issues.

Both the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) pulled out of the steering committee last year. OPSEU was never a participant on the committee.

Read our previous posts on this issue:

Check out the PSW Registry website by clicking here.



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