Sharleen Stewart says her union is supporting the just-released Ontario budget and urges all MPPs in the legislature to allow it to pass.
“Personal support workers in home and community care haven’t had this good a reason to celebrate change in years. The hourly wage raises the government is promising are desperately needed. This is a progressive first step in the overall journey toward fair compensation and respect for PSWs who care for our seniors. We want to continue to work with all parties to fix the homecare system.”
“We will push all MPPs to strengthen the healthcare system we all hold dear by keeping it public and making it more accessible, safe, comforting, and efficient.” – SEIU Healthcare president Sharleen Stewart
The healthcare union has concerns about the freezing of base hospital spending and the absence of improved staffing levels for long-term care homes to improve safety for residents and their healthcare workers. However, on balance it must stand behind a budget with real, concrete items for home and community care.
Just two days ago homecare and community service PSWs campaigning for a “Sweet $16” celebrated a promise of a $1.50/hour raise across the board for publicly funded workers retroactive to April 1, the funding for which is already approved, with a promise for a further $2.50/hour in the next two years.
The budget recognizes the vital role that homecare has to play in meeting the needs of an aging population, while maintaining a strong public healthcare system so Ontarians can get care when and where they need it most. Investment in homecare is part of a fiscally responsible model of health system transformation that helps ease emergency room wait times, frees up beds in overcrowded hospital wards, and reduces waiting lists for nursing homes. SEIU Healthcare is pleased with the plan to increase overall home and community care funding by another 5%, or $270 million, in 2014-15.
As with the last two budgets, SEIU Healthcare seeks to collaborate with the Liberals and NDP to make the minority legislature work and secure progressive gains for frontline healthcare workers, their clients, and their families. With a muddied, uncertain polling picture, the risk of triggering an election that could see Tim Hudak become Premier and implement a radical agenda of austerity, privatization, and cuts to public services is simply too high. On balance, this is a budget with some good measures for healthcare workers and their clients and SEIU Healthcare wants to see it pass.
Facts about homecare in Ontario:
- Need for homecare is rising; nearly 1 in 4 Canadians will be a senior by 2036
- Homecare personal support workers travel to clients’ personal homes and tend to their physiological, hygienic, emotional, and practical needs
- There are more than 30,000 homecare PSWs in Ontario
- Homecare PSWs work for either private for-profit companies or non-profit providers that receive Ontario government funding through the CCACs to provide homecare services
- Currently, the average homecare PSW wage is $14.50/hour whereas the average PSW wage in long-term care (nursing homes) is about $20/hour
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