Ontario Health Coalition

Ontario Health Coalition

April 30, 2014 20:40 ET

Health Coalition Applauds "Significant" Improvement in Minimum Wage for Home Care PSWs: Warns Against Cuts to Needed Hospital Care

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - April 30, 2014) -

Attn: Assignment Editor/News Desk

The OHC applauds a truly good news announcement that there will be a significant improvement in the minimum wage for home care personal support workers, announced yesterday by the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. These care workers provide vital care to people whose care needs are increasingly complex and heavier as more and more patients are moved out of hospitals. Home care personal support workers are mostly women and too often their work has been permanently casual and temporary, with few or no benefits, insecure hours of work and poor pay. Many live in poverty while working as many shifts as they can get. The government's announcement means that an immediate pay increase to $14 per hour will be implemented retroactively back to April 1. By April 2016, the plan is to increase PSW wages to a minimum of $16.50 per hour.

"This improvement to the minimum wage for personal support workers is very significant and we applaud it wholeheartedly. It is vital to quality of care, as well as moving towards dignified working conditions and a decent standard of life for care workers," noted Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition. "The poor working conditions and relatively low wages in the home care sector have been major factors in a very high turnover rate among staff. For patients, high staff turnover has contributed to poor continuity of care. Workers, who provide intimate care such as bathing, change frequently, information about patients' needs is not passed on, and these have created hardship for everyone."

The bad news is that the Finance Minister Charles Sousa linked improvements in home care to more cuts in hospitals.

"The Minister does Ontarians a disservice to foster cut-throat competition between parts of the public health system for dollars. While we deeply believe in ensuring that people can choose age at home and be supported in doing it, and while we have worked for years for improvements to home care and applaud without reservation yesterday's announcement, the health care system is a continuum and good news about home care should not be used as a cover for real cuts to needed services," said Mehra. "The truth is that needed hospital services are being cut and privatized all across Ontario. These cuts are not transferrable to home care and they harm patients, leading to longer wait times, patients on stretchers in hallways, backlogged emergency departments, devastating cuts to rural hospitals, lost access to publicly-funded physiotherapy and rehabilitation care in many communities, patients moved out of hospital without adequate care and without being stable enough, cuts to outpatient clinics that are not replaced by home care and the list goes on and on."

The coalition is calling on the Minister of Health to put a moratorium on cuts to hospital services and to hold meaningful public consultations towards fundamental reforms in home care to create a stable public non-profit system in which care dollars go to care and not to hundreds of duplicate agencies and companies.

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