Personal Support Worker Statement 2023

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A health care worker assists a long-term care resident.

In celebration of Personal Support Worker Day on May 19, 2023 Unifor salutes the contributions of the thousands of Unifor members who work as Personal Support Workers (PSWs) in Ontario.

We are especially proud to recognize PSW’s who were on the front lines putting themselves in danger ever day by providing care for others during the pandemic.

In many health care facilities, PSW’s have been the backbone, providing care throughout the pandemic. Personal Support Workers are an essential part of the healthcare team, providing vital care and support to individuals in need. They play a critical role in ensuring that patients and residents receive the best possible care, whether it be in a long-term care facility, retirement home, hospital, or in the community. PSWs are skilled professionals who work tirelessly to improve the quality of life for their patients. They provide assistance with daily activities such as bathing, dressing, and eating, as well as emotional support and companionship. Their dedication and compassion towards patients and families are truly admirable, and their contributions are often unrecognized and undervalued.

As we celebrate PSW Day in Ontario, we also acknowledge the challenges and difficulties that PSWs face daily. The COVID-19 pandemic brought to light the importance of their work and the risks they face on the front lines. The sacrifices they have made to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their patients during these unprecedented times deserve our utmost gratitude.

For many years, Unifor has specifically called on the Ontario government to address the issues facing PSWs. The union has long advocated for a regulatory minimum of four hours care per patient as the standard of care in long-term care homes.

In 2021, the Ontario provincial government passed legislation to establish an average of four hours of direct care for long-term care residents by 2024-2025. The union continues to call on provincial governments that 4 hours of care should be applied and achieved by each individual facility. It must be vigorously measured through public reporting and proper enforcement, as the health and safety of residents and workers are on the line.

We now know that residents in long-term care homes died as a result of the conditions of care related to chronic underfunding and not solely to COVID-19, with even higher deaths of residents in for-profit facilities. It is inhumane not to provide the resources needed to provide care with respect and dignity for our seniors and to allow corporations to put profits ahead of people.

The union will continue to call on governments and employers to provide adequate personal protective equipment, maintain sufficient staffing levels and give fair compensation for long-term care workers across the country.

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