In October, the Ontario government announced a temporary wage increase for personal support workers (PSWs) in home and community care, long-term care, public hospitals, and social services sector. It’s an increase of either two dollars (for those in hospitals) or three dollars (everyone else), and it is currently scheduled to last until August 23rd, 2021.

While this is welcomed and reflects the growing recognition of the value that personal support workers bring to our community, it’s only one step among many others the government needs to take immediately. The original pandemic pay of $4 should be made permanent – and should apply to all front-line staff.. In addition to a wage increase, staff deserve full-time work, job security, access to paid sick leave, and benefits. We need improvements in health & long-term care to apply to all workers in these sectors, and others in community and social services and retirement homes. Care is not provided by a single job classification – it is provided by a team, and all members of the team deserve to be compensated fairly.

PSWs have sacrificed so much, before and during this pandemic. So have developmental service workers, shelter workers, and others in long-term care, health care, and retirement homes. They deserve better – and this government has the power to do the right thing – today.

Premier Ford:

You took an important step forward with the temporary wage increase for front-line staff. But we need a government that understands the full scope of the problem.

PSWs have always been there for our communities, doing the hard work during both good and bad times. In return, they have been offered precarious work, and inadequate wages. This isn’t just wrong – it’s not sustainable.

Half measures just won’t cut it anymore.

If you’re truly serious about supporting front-line heroes, you will mandate permanent full-time work, a range of benefits, and access to paid sick leave in addition to a permanent pay increase that reflect the value of the work these folks perform everyday.

And you can’t leave out workers who  make up the rest of team, like registered practical nurses, registered nurses, retirement home workers, developmental service workers, shelter workers, and other job classifications in long-term care, community services and hospitals – there are so many who deserve access to decent paid, full-time work. Temporary fixes are not fixes at all – we deserve permanent solutions.

Seniors who built this province, the most vulnerable in our communities, deserve nothing less than to have those who support them be respected and fairly treated. We will get through this pandemic but the crisis of low wages, precarious work, and inadequate benefits for front-line workers will continue if we don’t take action.

It’s time to permanently and fully recognize the value front-line workers contribute to our communities.

Sincerely,

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