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TORONTO, ON — A haphazard rollout is hampering many home and community care personal support workers (PSWs) from receiving the modest and long-overdue wage increase approved in the Ontario budget, charges the Canadian Union of Public Employees (Ontario/CUPE).

What should be a good news story for tens of thousands of PSWs and for the provincial Liberals, is hitting significant problems with some home and community care agencies refusing to implement the first portion of the $4 an hour (over two years) wage increase for PSWs, says Candace Rennick, CUPE Ontario.

“The provincial government did the right thing in raising PSWs’ wages. Now the Liberals must act quickly to address the rollout issues and honour the commitment they made to low paid PSWs in the last budget. We can only assume that the health minister and Premier are unaware that the wage increase they intended for PSWs is not reaching many of them,” says Rennick.

CUPE Ontario has learned that some home and community care employers are refusing to apply the PSW wage enhancement. In other cases, sick leave, vacation and training hours are not included. One employer is refusing to accept the provincial dollars outright saying it does not want to incur additional pension and benefit associated costs. Also acrimony has been created in some workplaces with the new wage increase allocated to some PSWs, while others have been excluded.

CUPE Ontario has sent a letter to the provincial minister outlining significant concerns about the PSW wage enhancement rollout, says Rennick. The letter also stresses that the province must ensure the wage enhancement covers more than just direct care hours provided and compensate PSWs for travel costs and benefits.

Home and community care for ill and vulnerable Ontarians is rationed to only a few hours a week. This means the majority of PSWs are not only low paid, but they have no guaranteed hours each week and work only part-time hours. The wage increase approved in the budget is a first step to creating better working conditions for PSWs. The next step says Rennick is increasing care hours for home care recipients and moving toward full-time, guaranteed hours for PSWs.

“Continuing to exploit PSWs, who are predominantly women, as a low waged labour pool with no guaranteed hours, is, we are sure, not what the Premier intended when she announced the $4 an hour wage increase back in the spring.
We are asking the health minister to intervene directly and make sure all PSWs receive the wage increase,” Rennick says. “To make it work, government and employers must work with workers and their representatives to resolve the outstanding issues. A one-sided dialogue between government and employers is a recipe for failure.”

For more information please contact:

Candace Rennick
Secretary-Treasurer CUPE Ontario

Stella Yeadon
CUPE Communications