There may soon be good news for the province’s personal support workers.
“When PSWs tell me they can make more at Tim Horton’s, I sit up and take notice,” Health Minister Deb Matthews was reported to have said yesterday at the Empire Club of Canada.
According to the Toronto Star, Matthews promises to improve the wages of the province’s personal support workers but said it would take time to figure out the best way to do it.
Throughout December’s SEIU PSW strike at Red Cross Care Partners we pointed out that the minimum wage for PSWs has not been increased since 2006, frozen at $12.50 per hour. That’s below the poverty level for workers the province is counting on to make its health transformation work.
That minimum wage is far less than what former Health Minister Elinor Caplan had recommended in her 2005 review of competitive bidding in home care. Caplan recognized that there would be no continuity of care when PSWs were turning over due to poor wages and working conditions. The Star reports today that this turnover rate is 60 per cent annually – clearly the government should have listened. It’s not too late to listen now.