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.