CUPE Local 7797 and The Neighborhood Group are working together to advocate for equality care and fairness for personal support workers. We encourage all PSW employers and union locals to participate in this campaign.

During the pandemic, the Ford government acknowledged how vital personal support workers (PSWs) are to our economic and social recovery, and in particular their vital role in keeping our loved ones safe and well year-round. PSWs in home and community care do important care work yet, they are often forgotten.

PSWs deserve more than our thanks—they deserve fair, living wages, good jobs, and access to benefits and paid sick leave. For far too long, the work of PSWs has been undervalued, leading to extreme precarity in work and high employee turnover. Many PSWs are forced to work multiple jobs just to get by.

The Ford government’s temporary wage enhancements for PSWs only begins to address what’s needed to ensure fair treatment for these loyal, dedicated workers and in turn, what’s needed to ensure quality care for those who need it most.

As personal support workers, employers in the sector, and community members, we call on the provincial government to provide PSWs with a permanent wage increase and good jobs.

 

Please add your name to our letter to Premier Doug Ford:

Dear Premier Ford,

During this pandemic, it’s become abundantly clear that personal support workers (PSWs) have been chronically undervalued. For far too long, PSWs have endured low wages, little to no access to full-time hours of work, benefits, or paid sick leave.

A temporary wage enhancement only begins to address some of the systemic issues facing these loyal, dedicated workers. Personal support workers provide vital care that is necessary for life, develop strong relationships needed to ensure quality care, and support some of the most vulnerable in our communities.

We call on you to:

1. Provide a permanent wage increase to all PSWs, ensuring that all PSWs earn a fair, living wage;

2. Address precarity of work for PSWs, including lack of access to good full-time jobs with benefits and paid sick leave;

3. Work with employer groups, workers, and health experts to create new regulations for the sector to ensure equality care;

In the upcoming 2021 budget, we have an important opportunity to change the face of our care economy for the better. I urge you to recognize the value of PSWs in home and community care and show your thanks for their dedication with a permanent wage increase, access to full-time hours, good benefits, and paid sick leave.

Sincerely,

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    PSW Bios

    PSW Bio 1: Ethiopia Amin

    Being a personal support worker is not a light task for the heart. You have the privilege to enter clients homes and give them the care and assistance that is needed. Trust is built, and relationships are created on a great foundation of support and friendship. There are time’s when you see your client is in need for household food. This is another sense of vulnerability that we see from our clients. We give them the best care we possibly can and I hope we’ll continue to show up for each other.

    PSW Bio 2: Charmaine Kelegan

    This is Charmaine, and I am a Community PSW for the past 20 years. As a PSW my job is to assist seniors with ADL such as bathing, personal care, change diapers, meal preparation, medication, shopping and socialization. As the client gets older or their medical condition detoriates, so are their complex demands for care, thus creating a workload that does not even match the one hour standard time that I am allocated to care for the client due to lack of adequate government funding in the community to provide for enough hours of care for senior clients, leading to full time jobs for us. The pandemic has shown how broken the home care sector is and urgent permanent fix is needed starting with providing full time jobs in the sector, decent permanent living wage, right now. In 20 years l have been working multiple jobs just to make ends meet because my hours of work in the community are not enough to provide me with a full time job even after 20 years. But now with the pandemic l cannot work the other jobs and my hours of work with one employer as a PSW, l can barely pay my rent each month and put food on the table for children. Who can survive at 15 hours per week and $ 600 bi- weekly? This is not the Canada l dreamed of when I came here for a better life. This is not how immigrants who work hard like me as Canadians have to live. We care for our vulnerable and isolated seniors in the community, please Mr. Ford care for us too. We need full time jobs and decent wages as PSWs.

    PSW Bio 3: Connie Ndlovu

    I love my job, caring for seniors who live in isolation in their homes in the community. I assist them with ADLs such as bathing, personal care, medication, meal preparation, household management and many other daily tasks that enables seniors to remain safely in their homes to avoid premature institutionalization. This is an important job for me, yet l still wear the face of poverty everyday due to poor wages in the sector and horrible working conditions that have
    been finally exposed by this pandemic. Premier Ford you can’t turn a deaf ear to our plight in the home-care sector any longer. For more than a decade we have been asking for the same thing- decent work and decent wages. You announced the PPP for PSWs, first
    it was $4 now it’s $3. This is still not enough to fix the broken system in home care. We need this wage enhancement be permanently added to our base pay and it is urgent that we get full time hours to make this pay substantial to us coz if we continue on this part-time work, then the PPP doesn’t really work for us. The pay needs to match up with the workload, caused by the under funding and creating precarious work, and that is why we work several part time jobs just to get by with paying rent. With the pandemic you have stopped us from working in these many jobs, so how do we pay our bills now Mr Ford? We look after your grandparents and this is work to be paid too, like nurses. Mr Ford take the time to understand what it means to be a PSW in home care – it’s torture, it’s poverty, it’s sad, but we still care. But for how long? Fix the home care sector now. PPP must be permanent and must create decent work for PSWs. Respect Us! We are women, marginalized women but above all we are PSWs who cared for your mother with tender loving care and a smile everyday despite that we are hungry and cannot pay rent most of the time. PPP must be permanent together with decent work!! All home care PSWs are HEROES TOO!!

    PSW Bio 4: Sophia Linhares

    I chose to be a psw at the age of 19 when my grandfather had fallen ill and my family decided to provide care for him at home until his last day . From then I have worked in Long term care facilities as well as with private cases and now at TNG for the less than 4 years.

    As a psw with tng we are catering to all walks of life , young and old ,rich and poor . I remember providing care for a girl 21 years of age with autism , non verbal, assisting her with a shower 1 hr per day just to give her mother a break to go shopping and pick up her medicine. While her mother stepped out , the client would scream at the top of her lungs and charge me with head butts, slaps, kicks. I thought to myself this is 1 hour a day, her mother experiences this 365, 24/7 I can manage. I have catered to a client that was 106 years old and watched them decline mentally to the point where they can’t remember where their precious items were kept. Developing a close bond as if she were my own grandmother and then years down the line being accused of stealing her precious items because you’re the most common face they see.

    I’ve seen cases that have unsanitary conditions such as bed bug and mice infestations, hoarders of things and animals. Often at times not being resolved for months due to lack of resources and no family members or friends to jump in and help. Constantly advocating for changes in clients home. With covid present some of these resources are prolonged and cease to exist.We are the eyes and ears for isolated individuals promoting better care and better living conditions .

    I’ve experienced long days working from 0700 in the morning till 2300 at night due to lack of staff with no breaks and only honored 1 hour travel time per day when traveling up to 4 hours of unpaid travel time and providing care for 10-14 people . Now with covid present you can not stop and sit down at a coffee shop to get a bite to eat . I also use to eat on the bus while commuting to my clients . With covid present you cannot remove your mask while sitting on the ttc and sneak in a little snack. Often at times I would go the whole day without eating . And I know many other psws that can relate to this due to the fact that they are not privileged in owning a car.

    Working late in areas that are unsafe. I’ve been subject to robbery where my phone as been snatched right out of my purse while waiting in the lobby for someone to open the door because the entry code didn’t work for a client. I’ve witnessed someone being stabbed several times July 2018 at Dundas and Jarvis while commuting to a late visit for a client to help put them to bed. And still show up with professionalism as if nothing happened even though I was mentally scared.

    I’ve experienced cases where a female client while being in the late stages of dementia lived with their son and who neglected her. Walking in each day finding empty bottles of alcohol and told empty promises to buy food or incontinence products for their own mother. I would bring donations from my own home, family and church to make sure the client had sufficient bed sheets , clothing, hygiene products , food and diapers . Witnessing financial and emotional abuse to a client from their own family member. Being the only hope she has to maintain dignity, independence and good health. Furthermore, being the only eyes and ears she has to advocate for her. All while being sexually and verbally harassed on each visit by her intoxicated son.

    Furthermore, we are spending extra time with our clients either because the client moves slow, their having an off day, or they ask you to do an extra task like showers, bedmaking, activities of daily living, meal prep ext that cannot all be done in 1 hour. Usually these extra things you do for your clients , are within the scope of your practice but are not paid for because you were only allotted 1 hour per visit at the most. When we are late with one client , we are late for them all. Some of the clients you see are not understanding of the scope of your practice and will scold you for being late.

    As a psw in the community we are healthcare chameleons adapting to new clients, new family members, new homes, new ttc and walking routes , new medical conditions , new behaviours , new personalities and so many other diverse challenges . And yet we remain to keep professionalism, adaptive personalities, flexibility , support , compassion, caring , strong willed and our superhero capes on while improving the lives of others. With covid present all the challenges I mentioned above are now amplified by the fear of contracting the virus itself. Not to mention the stress that you absorb from your clients and the interactions you make on a daily basis such as touching door knobs, keypads for buzzer codes, clients social groups, the client themselves, only stresses my point in making psw wages higher. We need to honour our psws adequately. I look forward to pushing the governments perception in the right direction .

    PSW Bio 5: Fatmia Sharif

    My name is Fatima Shariff. I work as a PSW in the home care sector. I help the old and frail seniors with bathing, feeding, diaper change, cleaning and other activities of daily living. I came to this country as a skilled worker. When I did not get a job in nursing due to my lack of Canadian experience, l quickly went to school to train as a PSW to help seniors in their homes. Before the pandemic l did two jobs to make ends meet. Now I can’t do that and yet I still have to pay my bills and live a decent life like any working class Canadian. I ask the Premier for once to recognize the important work we do in the community, and begin to respect us by giving us a decent work experience, with a living wage. I am not young any more to be chasing two jobs just to get by. Mr Ford we want the PPP to be permanent and we want full time jobs right now. The pandemic has shown you that we are not only essential workers but we are the important thread of the health care system and as long as people age, so is their need for help with basic activities of daily living and it will always be a PSW who will provide that help to that vulnerable senior in the community. We are the unsung heroes and sometimes invisible because of the broken system. Fix the system now Premier and take care of us the hardworking single mothers and marginalized immigrant women. We are people too, decent working class people wearing the face of poverty in our society.