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Ontario government PSW regulation short on details raises more questions than answers and absent urgent support workers need today

SEIU, CUPE and Unifor's logos
April 27, 2021 - 12:00 AM

Unions representing 175,000 workers serving on the frontlines of this pandemic re-iterate demand that the Ford government support workers

TORONTO, ON – Today, SEIU Healthcare, Unifor, and CUPE, unions representing 175,000 healthcare workers across Ontario, are concerned that the Ford government in Ontario has introduced a Bill to regulate personal support workers (PSWs) without also providing the urgent supports they need right now as they continue to fight the pandemic.

The legislation in its current form is short on details and raises more questions than answers. It would give the government enabling powers to make future decisions behind closed doors.

PSWs need urgent support today, like full-time jobs, permanent wage increases for a living wage, and increased staffing levels to deliver safe, dignified care for seniors. Instead, what they’re getting is uncertainty about the future of their profession.

What are the costs imposed on PSWs? Who are the people appointed to protect PSWs in this arrangement? What recourse do PSWs have in defending themselves from complaints in workplaces where staffing is dangerously low?

We’re again calling on Doug Ford to do what he has so far refused to do to respect, protect, and better pay healthcare workers like PSWs:

  • Reverse the staff exodus in health care by turning exploitative part-time work into full-time jobs with benefits
  • Provide paid-sick leave for Covid-19 related illnesses and providing pay while staff await Covid-19 test results or are in isolation
  • Provide the PPE that health care workers need to work safely
  • Make the initial $4 per hour “pandemic pay” available to all healthcare workers and made permanent going forward

QUOTES:

“It’s truly regrettable that the Ford government chose to spend this moment saddling PSWs with a questionable regulatory scheme instead of taking the opportunity to announce critical support like paid sick days. PSWs and frontline healthcare workers like them deserve a living wage and full-time jobs. There is no greater urgency than bringing relief to our heroes on the frontline of a collapsing healthcare system and that is what needs our immediate focus.” – Sharleen Stewart, President, SEIU Healthcare

“Introducing enabling legislation without agreement with PSWs over basic principles is not the way to proceed. PSWs are very concerned about extra costs imposed on them, due process, grand-parenting, and other issues.  This should not be the government priority for PSWs at this time.” – Candace Rennick, Secretary-Treasurer, CUPE Ontario

“Announcing a legislative framework for personal support workers when they have done nothing to address the issues plaguing them makes no sense. These workers who have been chronically underpaid and have little access to full-time work, and will now have an additional financial burden that could amount to hundreds of dollars per year for each individual. The government has much more work to do before they get to this point, and that includes not defending for-profit LTC operators in their quest to deny their employees maintenance of proxy pay equity.” – Katha Fortier, Assistant to the National President, Unifor.

Corey Johnson, SEIU Healthcare Communications - c.johnson@seiuhealthcare.ca, 416-529-8909

Stella Yeadon, CUPE Communications - syeadon@cupe.ca, 416-559-9300

Hamid Osman, Unifor Communications - Hamid.Osman@unifor.org, 647-448-2823