Better support needed for Ontario’s PSWs
An open letter to the Honourable Christine Elliott, Minister of Health,
Our chapter received a call from a local lady in distress. She had been on a waiting list for over three weeks after being discharged from hospital with some disabilities that prevented her from taking care of herself. She proceeded to explain she was not expecting us to solve her problem in particular, but was asking that we attempt to address the issue itself, for the benefit of others in her position. She further explained, that she was told that the problem was a severe shortage of PSWs, which she disagreed emphatically with. She felt the problem was more likely a shortage of PSWs that were prepared to work under the disgraceful conditions imposed by the province. Upon following up with a bit of research, we are inclined to agree with her.
According to a study done for the Ontario PSW Association, entitled “An Occupation in Crisis,” Ontario holds the distinction of paying the lowest rate (minimum wage) of all the provinces in Canada for the services provided by these hard-working individuals. To add insult to injury, their travel expenses are manipulated to the point of making it difficult to keep their car on the road. For instance, the mileage for their first visit in the morning and their last call in the evening cannot be charged for, since this is considered travel to work even though the distance often involved is well beyond the distance anyone would normally travel to work. Their hourly rate is not covered for this travel time either. They are usually paid only for the time they are providing a service, even though they spend a good part of their day in their car. This treatment may, or may not seem very unfair in the city, but in rural areas such as ours it is grossly unfair.
These people are treated like second class citizens, but they are expected to arrive at their clients’ homes all smiles and ready to treat them with kindness and comfort, when, in fact they are tired and discontent. It is no wonder that PSWs are finding something more fulfilling to work at, rather than struggle with this kind of mistreatment. Our seniors with disabilities deserve to be assisted by someone who is in a good state of mind and happy with their job. Your government has a responsibility to treat both your employees and their clients with more respect.
It’s the least that you can do. We look forward to your response.
The Board of Directors
Haliburton Highlands CARP Chapter 54