TORONTO ― The Ontario government is supporting personal support workers (PSWs) and direct support workers in the home and community care, long-term care, public hospitals, and social services sectors by investing $461 million to temporarily enhance wages. This investment will help the province attract and retain the workforce needed to care for patients, clients and residents in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care, and Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health.
“We know the wages of PSWs do not reflect the critical role they have played throughout this pandemic, in addition to their ongoing care of our loved ones,” said Premier Ford. “Today’s temporary investment will bridge that gap and ensure this vital profession receives the appreciation and respect it deserves.”
The province is providing a temporary wage increase effective October 1, 2020 to over 147,000 workers who deliver publicly funded personal support services:
- $3 per hour for approximately 38,000 eligible workers in home and community care;
- $3 per hour for approximately 50,000 eligible workers in long-term care;
- $2 per hour for approximately 12,300 eligible workers in public hospitals; and
- $3 per hour for approximately 47,000 eligible workers in children, community and social services providing personal direct support services for the activities of daily living.
The temporary wage enhancement will be reviewed on a regular basis and could extend through March 31, 2021, in connection with regulations made under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020.
“Personal support workers and direct support workers care for some of our most vulnerable patients and have been critical in the fight against COVID-19,” said Minister Elliott. “The pandemic has created additional pressures on these workers and as cases increase and we prepare for the upcoming flu season, this wage enhancement recognizes their important role in providing care for those in need.”
This temporary wage enhancement continues to build on the province’s COVID-19 fall preparedness plan, which includes an investment of $26.3 million to support PSWs and supportive care workers. The plan will help to increase and stabilize the healthcare workforce through the following investments:
- $14 million for the Personal Support Worker training funds to continue training PSWs in the home and community care and long-term care sectors;
- $10.3 million for the new Personal Support Worker Return of Service Program, to recruit and retain recent graduates to work in long-term care homes and in the home and community care sectors. This program will provide a $5,000 incentive to 2,000 recent graduates for a six-month commitment to work in these settings;
- $1.3 million to train 160 supportive care workers to provide basic home support services; and
- $700,000 in accelerated personal support worker training for 220 students with prior health experience to practice in Ontario.
“Today’s critical investment recognizes the vital importance that Ontario’s personal support workers have in the lives of our most vulnerable,” said Minister Fullerton. “Today, we recognize you and the invaluable caring that you provide. A heartfelt thank you to our PSWs ― you demonstrate daily your commitment and compassion to the people depending on you, especially in our long-term care homes. Thank you.”
“This targeted investment will help maintain more consistent wages and retain support workers across all of our sectors,” said Todd Smith, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services. “This will ensure that our most vulnerable individuals continue to receive the vital care that our support workers provide.”
These temporary investments build on the province’s COVID-19 fall preparedness plan, Keeping Ontarians Safe: Preparing for Future Waves of COVID-19, which will help the province quickly identify, prevent and respond to any scenario in order to protect communities.