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Toronto, ON – Home care and community-based personal support workers (PSWs) were left in the lurch yesterday, waiting for a much anticipated $1.50 wage increase, promised to them by the Ontario Premier and the former health minister.

The April 1, $1.50 raise, is the second in a series of phased-in PSW wage enhancements totalling $4/hour (over three years) that the provincial Liberals committed to. But as of yesterday, there was no indication to community agencies that employ PSWs, that health ministry funding for the wage increase is on its way.

Michael Hurley, first vice-president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario says there is “deep disappointment that the Liberals have not delivered on their commitment to PSWs. They have failed to meet their own April 1 deadline.”

Last year, the Premier publicly acknowledged PSWs are undervalued. The Liberals included the $4/hour wage enhancement in both their election platform and the budget. Further in the fall of 2014, the Premier gave direction to key ministers to develop strategies to lessen the gender pay gap between female and male workers.

Following more than a decade of “exploiting the predominantly female PSW workforce as low-waged labour, the Liberals committed to do the right thing and increase the base wage for community-based PSWs. The raise was well overdue and extremely welcome. Now the province should pay up,” says Kelly O’Sullivan, chair of the CUPE Ontario health care workers committee. 

Government driven restructuring has largely de-unionized the sector and bent the health care cost curve by “exploiting the women who deliver home care,” says Hurley. “Their work is casualized and full-time hours is a rarity, as are pensions and benefits. Community home care staff are often not paid to travel to rural clients or for their mileage. This delay in moving a promised raise to these women is further evidence of the government’s disrespect for the value of their work.”

The rollout of the first $1.50 installment in 2014, did not go smoothly either. However the ministry of health worked hard to rectify most of the problems.

“We remain optimistic that the Premier and health minister will again endeavour to fix the mess up and get the wage enhancement funding to flow to the PSWs. They more than deserve it,” says O’Sullivan.

For more information please contact:
Stella Yeadon, CUPE Communications