OPSEU applauds the Ford government’s $461 M support for Ontario’s PSWs and DSWs

“These workers have been overlooked, overworked, and underpaid for decades, despite our pleas to successive governments. I’m glad to see those issues are finally being addressed." — Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President

Toronto (02 Oct. 2020) — Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE), is commending the Ford government for providing $461 million toward a wage increase for Ontario’s personal support workers (PSWs) and direct support workers (DSWs).  

“The government took another important step forward in protecting our long-term care residents and giving our PSWs and DSWs the appreciation they deserve,” said Thomas. “These workers have been overlooked, overworked, and underpaid for decades, despite our pleas to successive governments. I’m glad to see those issues are finally being addressed. Sadly, it took a tragedy of unprecedented magnitude to get the ball rolling. And for that, there must be accountability, even if it takes the Premier ordering an OPP investigation into the conduct of private operators.”  

More opportunities to support PSWs 

While the government’s Fall Preparedness Plan for Health, Long-Term Care and Education outlines funding toward training for PSWs and recruitment of recent graduates, Thomas pointed out that there remain further opportunities to increase the PSW workforce through Ontario’s community colleges.  

Earlier this week, Thomas called upon Premier Ford to offer full tuition support for PSWs through the colleges, which would provide an incentive for PSW students and address the province’s long-standing PSW shortage. He issued this reminder again, noting that all 24 colleges in Ontario currently offer PSW certification towards full accreditation.  

“The Ford government needs to leverage the highly-skilled faculty and staff at Ontario’s colleges,” said Thomas. “If they consult with these professionals, and their union, I have no doubt that our colleges' programs can meet the high demand for PSW training and certification. Former premier Bill Davis, who built the college system, would surely approve of this made-in-Ontario solution. The time to act is now. Ontarians aren’t getting any younger.”  

Higher wages may help with attraction and retention of frontline workers

Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, OPSEU’s First Vice-President/Treasurer also applauded this investment in the PSW and DSW fields, adding that more conversations around attraction and retention will need to be addressed at the bargaining table with employers.    

“This increase will have a significant, positive impact on thousands of these frontline workers who provide vital support to our province’s most vulnerable,” said Almeida. “Wages have been far too low, for far too long, and I’m happy to see the government finally recognizing the importance of the work that these heroes do. Premier Ford put money on the table. I’m pleased to hear the move is more than temporary.”  

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE