Personal Support Workers used as a reason for changing marathon route. They have a bigger problem; getting a decent wage.

In an earlier edition of the paper we incorrectly named the PSW’s.  Our apologies.

December 14, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  During the several debates at city council last week mention was made frequently of the difficulties Personal Support  Workers had in getting to some of their clients in the east end of Lakeshore Road during the Chilly Half Marathon race that takes place in March of each year with some 4000+ runners on the road.

The Personal Support Workers (PSW’s) work to very, very tight schedules.  If you have a 10:30 appointment it takes place at 10:30 – there is next to no wiggle room in their schedules.  The problems the Personal Support Workers run into were brought up by a number of the delegations that didn’t want the race run on the route it is run on.

Personal Service Workers strike for decent wages.

Turns out that getting to their clients isn’t the only problem the Personal Support Workers have – they want a decent wage as well and have walked of the job effective Friday.

According to their union the 4,500 personal support workers walked off the job yesterday to support their demands for justice and a living wage.

“These workers are tired of being pushed around and taken for granted,” said Sharleen Stewart, president of SEIU Healthcare. “They are paid poverty-level wages of $15 an hour and are expected to pay for gas out-of-pocket when they drive long distances to make home visits.”

Ontario’s Minister of Health spent a day with a PSW worker to see first hand what they do – so the government knows that the issues are.

In the last two years PSW earnings have been reduced by about 7% as a result of a wage freeze combined with inflation and a massive increase in the price of gas.

The Canadian Reed Cross created a new home care agency and merged that operation with Care Partners in 2012. 

“We estimate 50 cents of every dollar given to Red Cross ($143 million this year) is skimmed off for bureaucracy, excessive executive pay and profit. Where is the accountability in this system for delivering quality care to seniors and vulnerable clients?”

Last year the CEO of the Red Cross Society was given a 9% pay increase, bringing his salary to $297 thousand, which is 11 times the average salary of a PSW.

A couple of dozen PSW’s were out on the street on one of the coldest days of the year.  A hundred or so people in Burlington who needed care on Friday just didn’t get it.

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1 comment to Personal Support Workers used as a reason for changing marathon route. They have a bigger problem; getting a decent wage.

  • Joan Turbitt

    I am well aware of the problems faced by personal support workers. I was one for a time. We had our hours cut by the PC government numerous times which of curse affected our wages. Impossible if you are the sole support of your family which most of us are. Then mpp Cam Jackson was quoted in the newpaper saying We are not going to pay to have these people vacuum for these seniors. (para) They expected their children to do it. I met some of the children who were in their 70’s I guess he expected them to do it. The appointments are set 9-10, 10-11, or 9-11, and 11-100 etc. no break in between no margin for travel to the next place, no time for lunch or supper etc. no transportation coverage and the patients are angry with us.
    The same situation is happening right now with the March of Dimes caregivers. It is the greedy bureacrats taking most of the money in wages….way overpaid for the inefficiency with which they operate these long time caregiving agencies.
    They all need to be fired and bring in people receiving a normal salary for such work. Recently other women I know who have been working for nothing as in volunteering or no one is taken care of, or for wages so low one cannot affotd to work. One time a supervisor told us that when people have an injured back the best thing is to get up and keep going. None of agreed with her. A numbr of us knew better as we had back problems which when you have a flare up are breath takingly painful and debilitating, completely. Stupid supervisors. Another thing I complained to George Smithermans office the then Min. of Health that I got into a major fight with a male nurse over using all of the allottment of diapers per patient which is no more than 3 every 8 hours on my 8 hour shift. To which, I replied that anyone I cared for no matter who is changed whenever they require it. His goal was to get me fired and I was not but thepatient was transferred out of the facility and I retired in disgust soon afterward. Additionally a PSW i know told me that while in training school for her PSW they were told by the instructor that 3 depends changes [per 24 hrs was all that was allowed. While training with another male nurse he cleaned and changed all of the men in the ward with one basin the same basin of water. I would have called the police and the Min of Health on the spot on the nurse, the facility and the agency that employed me. But that is me. I do not care about the consequences and do not stand on ceremony when it comes to the care of peoples’ lives. We will all be there sooner or later.
    The facility in which this man was housed cost him $3,000.per mo. for a bed and a bathroom. His child was a lawyer and yet they did not the facility nor the child want to provide me or the caregiver with more diapers/depends for their father/patient. Shortly thereafter, the cabinet was shuffled and you know the rest. I/ll bet there are any number of psw’s willing to testify to those and many more stories like it. Disgusted at Caregiving Agencies