Personal Service Workers Need Professional Standards

A Personal Support Worker (PSW) is a Canadian health worker that provides care to those that are not fully able to care for themselves. This includes seniors, individuals with physical disabilities, and individuals with mental disabilities, amongst others. Considering we are in dire need of these types of caregivers, we should value this work and the people who do it. Instead, it seems that PSWs are a political hot potato. In September 2009 a Toronto Star reporter posing as a student at an unregistered career college received a bogus PSW certificate. CARP wrote the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities asking to know why he did not seek all the means at his disposal to shut such institutions down. To read this letter, click here.

In January 2010, the Minister responded by saying that the occupation of personal support worker was currently unregulated and that regulating the profession would fall under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, and so, he was Ccing the Minister of Health on this correspondence. Click here to read the Minister’s Response to CARP. Read more

In February, we received a letter from Marilyn Wang, a Director at the Health Professions Regulatory Policy and Programs Branch at the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. She advised us that the question of whether or not PSWs should become regulated was being deliberated by the Health Professionals Advisory Council who were expected to deliver their report on March 31st 2011. Read more

Yet in this March 26th 2010 letter Health Minister Deb Matthews wrote to Barbara Sullivan, the Chair of the Health Professions Regulatory Council saying:

“In regards to personal support workers, in September 2006, HPRAC provided very helpful advice. Your recommendation that personal support workers (PSWs) not be regulated under the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 (RHPA) has been followed. Since then both the ministries of Training, Colleges and Universities and Health and Long-Term Care have been actively involved in a range education, practice and organizational issues related to PSW. Additionally, on further consideration, advising on the creation of a professional association seems beyond the scope of the regulatory related advice HPRAC should be asked to provide. For these reasons, I will not require HPRAC to undertake any additional work related to PSW. Once again I thank you for your previous work in this are that has provided such useful direction.”

Needless to say, we intend to monitor this situation. If regulation or the creation of a professional association for PSWs is not in the public’s interest, then it should be subject to debate in the public domain.

Keywords: healthcare