News Release: Improving Home and Community Care for Ontario Seniors

Helping a sick elderly woman

Editor’s Note: What follows is a news release by the Ontario Government. It is well worth noting that this is a long-time CARP ask that will come to pass if the Ontario budget is voted in. The government is planning a series of measures, including a fairly substantial salary increase, that will go a long way towards improving working conditions for Personal Support Workers (PSWs) providing community and home care in Ontario.

In recent years there had been a “race to the bottom” for PSW compensation, working conditions and benefits. Worker compensation had bottomed out and in home care wages were lowest – they were sometimes paid as little as $11 -12 per hour, with no benefits, and often required to pay their own travel expenses. What’s worse is that many PSWs were not compensated for their travel time. For healthcare workers visiting many homes in one day, this was untenable.

These unsavory working conditions made it difficult to retain quality staff, creating a high turnover rate which would upset the clients. PSWs provide services like personal care for people requiring this type of care at home, continuity is of the utmost importance.

These new standards will make it easier to introduce higher training standards and ultimately will ensure that those who require help receive better care and that their informal/family caregivers are better supported by home care workers. We applaud this measure – it was about time!

To read CARP’s caregiver brief, please click here. What follows is a Government of Ontario news release about the new measures:

Ontario Providing Fairness for Personal Support Workers

Ontario is improving the care of seniors in their homes and communities by investing in the recruitment and retention of personal support workers (PSWs).

The province intends to increase the hourly wage of publicly-funded PSWs who work in home and community care settings by $4.00 over the next three years. Ontario is also setting a new base wage for these PSWs that will increase alongside the hourly wage to $16.50/hour by April 1, 2016.

In addition, through Ontario’s new PSW Workforce Stabilization Strategy, the government will:

  • Develop measures to create more permanent and less casual employment for PSWs.
  • Help new graduates find work through an on-the-job orientation program.
  • Provide opportunities to strengthen sector leadership across the profession.
  • Further examine challenges affecting recruitment and retention, including how PSWs can become more involved in teams of health care professionals to better care for patients.

More than 34,000 of Ontario’s 100,000 PSWs deliver care, assistance and support to seniors and other people with complex care needs in their own homes and communities. By playing a critical role in helping Ontario seniors stay independent and supporting patients with complex care needs, PSWs reduce the need for more costly care in hospitals and long-term care.

Enhancing job security for PSWs who care for seniors is part of Ontario’s Action Plan for Health Care to provide the right care, at the right time, in the right place. It is also part of the government’s economic plan that is creating jobs for today and tomorrow by focusing on Ontario’s greatest strengths — its people and strategic partnerships.

Quick Facts

  • Wages for PSWs in the publicly-funded home and community care sector will be increased by $1.50 per hour retroactive to April 1, 2014, and are intended to increase another $1.50 per hour on April 1, 2015, and a further $1.00 on April 1, 2016. The minimum wage for these personal support workers will also be set at $14.00 per hour in 2014-15 and rise to $16.50 on this same timeline.
  • Home and community sector PSWs delivered about 31 million hours of care to over 300,000 people including seniors and people with complex care needs in 2012/13.

Find Out More