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Celebrating Our Personal Support Workers: Vincent Chio

June 6, 2018 seiu

Vincent Chio is a Personal Support Worker (PSW) at ParaMed Home Health Care in Toronto. To him, the work he does is more important than what the job will bring him, and he feels happy when providing care to his clients.

“It’s not just about the income. It’s about the way you treat other people, how you take care of them, give them support, and help them achieve quality care. When I go to see my clients, I usually give them showers, talk to them, and prepare their meals. It’s always nice to help people, especially those who don’t have families to take care of them. There are many stresses in life and having someone care for you like that really means a lot.”

Unfortunately, there is currently no official regulation for PSWs, and because of this, PSWs do not receive the same benefits and compensation as other healthcare workers despite oftentimes performing the same duties as them. As election day approaches, Vincent hopes for change:

“When we take on work beyond our job description, we aren’t compensated for it and still get paid as PSWs. Our benefits are also reduced. The government doesn’t really know what PSWs are and what we do – they don’t know we exist. They don’t want clients to stay in hospitals and would rather they received treatment at home, but what they don’t realise is that without PSWs, there’s no one to care for them at home. Group homes can be a good alternative, but they aren’t always conducive to personal care, and PSWs know this.”

“It would be beneficial to the government to invest more in the frontline; in the long run they would save a lot of money on hospitals and other healthcare institutions. When people are in good shape – including our disabled clients – they’ll be able to work and pay taxes, so there would definitely be a big return on that investment.”

Communication is an integral part of change, and Vincent feels that there is a lack of it when it comes to understanding issues in the frontline:

“The problem is that instead of talking to us, the government invests in research that may very well be outdated. Nothing will come out of projects if they don’t communicate with the frontline. If we’re ever going to change what’s going on in our community, they need to see what’s happening here for themselves.”

Vincent is thankful for his union, SEIU Healthcare, which has helped to open up the dialogue and give workers the confidence to speak out against unacceptable practices:

“I feel really great about the amount of support we’ve received from SEIU Healthcare. Changes can’t happen abruptly anymore; workers need to know their rights and get a chance to speak before any decision is made. Before, you had to either accept the conditions or leave the company altogether, and it’s easy for employers to hire people who don’t know their rights – especially if they’re immigrants. Now is our chance to come together and start again.”

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