Tag Archives: Ontario Home Care

Revera’s shallow hypocrisy on PSW compensation

Photograph of cars through a wet windshield to illustrate Revera's decison to claw back mileage rates from their PSWs.

Corporate giant Revera is clawing back mileage rates from home care PSWs, potentially jeopardizing the province’s workforce stabilization plan. Photo: http://www.canstockphoto.com

Home and residential care giant Revera say they are proud to support Ontario’s wage stabilization initiative for personal support workers (PSWs). Now that their home care workers have received the $1.50/hr wage increase, the corporation is telling the non-union portion of their workforce they are clawing back 8 cents per kilometre in compensation for travel between clients. In other words, they wanted government to pick up the bill for improved wage compensation so they could trash travel compensation for the same employees. That may not be what Health Minister Eric Hoskins had in mind with the Ministry’s workforce stabilization plan.

For some workers, the Revera claw back on mileage could eclipse the wage increase, leaving the government no further ahead in improving compensation to stem the tide of PSW departures. The turnover rate for PSWs in Ontario’s home care sector is 60 per cent – or the entire workforce in less than two years. That, by any standards, does not represent good continuity of care. Given Revera professes their number one goal is to help their clients, this gives every appearance they are more concerned about helping their profits.

A $1.50 per hour increase would total $52.50 before deductions on a 35 hour week – that’s slightly more than most PSWs would receive in paid hours. The loss of 8 cents per kilometre means that the wage increase would be wiped out if the worker drives more than 656 kilometer in a week – a cumulative distance not that uncommon particularly in more rural settings. Further, the company is not reimbursing on actual kilometres travelled, but based on the “optimal” route using Google Maps. Better not divert for gas, a Tim’s coffee or to avoid traffic and construction through an alternate route.

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Two-thirds of Ontario PSWs excluded from wage adjustment

Photograph of former Health Minister Deb Matthews with Finance Minister Charles Sousa announcing the breakthrough increase for PSWs in April.

Former Health Minister Deb Matthews with Finance Minister Charles Sousa announcing the breakthrough increase for PSWs in April. (Photo: Ontario Government).

It was clear from the start that the much applauded increase for Ontario’s Personal Support Workers was not going to apply to all.

Back in April the government noted that “more than 34,000 of Ontario’s PSWs deliver care, assistance and support to seniors and other people with complex care needs in their own homes and communities.”

That was the target group for Ontario’s new funding aimed at bringing stability to a workforce that was turning over every two years or less. Given the emphasis on continuity of care as a measure of quality, this high level of turnover was evidence of colossal failure the Wynne government couldn’t ignore.

These 34,000 represent only about a third of the PSWs in the province. That means for two-thirds, there will be no additional adjustment outside of their existing collective agreement or individual non-union contract.

Only these 34,000 PSWs will receive the $1.50 an hour increase retroactive to April 1st of this year. Those wage adjustments and retroactive pay are expected in September.

The government has committed to increase the hourly rate for this group by a total of $4 an hour by April 1, 2016. By 2016 the new minimum wage for PSWs will be $16.50/hour.

Given the scope of the plan issued in April, it was no surprise that PSWs working in hospitals and long-term care homes would be excluded by the government from this new funding.

What is surprising is news that the government has arbitrarily excluded a significant group of PSWs who do work within the home and community sector. According to a brief released by CUPE, the government is denying the same increase to those who exclusively provide homemaking and work in community mental health/supportive housing. Earlier descriptions suggested these PSWs would likely be in the target group.

In some cases, these excluded workers are often employed by the same agencies that will be passing on increases to their colleagues who provide personal care.

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Not all home and community care receiving increases this year

It’s always been an odd concept to us to separate out hospitals from other community-based providers. If hospitals are not operating in their communities, where the heck are they operating? It also makes little sense when the watchword these days is “integration.”

The reality is that hospitals are health care citadels within their communities and attract far more community involvement than some of the so-called private for-profit “community-based” health care providers the government seems to be taken with.

Walk into the lobby of any hospital and you’ll likely see an information desk with volunteers from the community sitting behind it. If you’ve had heart surgery recently, you’ll have probably received a visit by a hospital volunteer who is there to answer your questions. Community volunteers are key to making fundraising foundations work for hospitals. Hospitals likely couldn’t function without them.

Unlike some of the province-wide private agencies, hospital boards are mostly made up of people who live in the community. They are much closer to the local communities than say the boards of the non-profit St. Elizabeth Healthcare or the for-profit Bayshore Home Health.

It is therefore with great interest that we note not all home and community care providers are receiving increases this year despite the government’s rhetoric about shifting services away from hospitals. That’s because some of this work is actually done by hospitals.

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