Premier Doug Ford, PC Party Leader March 23, 2022
Andrea Horwath, Ontario NDP Leader
Steven Del Duca, Ontario Liberal Party Leader
Mike Schreiner, Green Party of Ontario Leader

In the coming days your caucus’ will debate, amend, and pass legislation to address the abhorrent conditions of work and dangerously low-staffing levels in the healthcare system. Specifically, legislation said to address the worsening health human resource crisis and unfair wages of personal support workers (PSWs).

When the temporary wage enhancement of $2-$3 for some PSWs was announced two years ago it wasn’t perfect, but in the middle of a crisis it was understood to be an emergency measure to bring urgent relief.
Two years later, we know now the effort is simply not working to recruit and retain the PSWs we need.

Ontario’s PSWs need a plan that works, as do the people of Ontario who rely on their essential services.
When legislation is tabled next week, we call on all of you to work together to make sure that the final bill that passes include, as a minimum, the following five provisions.

First, the legislation must include all PSWs, not just some. Several employers in our hospital sector are already suggesting that some PSWs who previously qualified for the temporary enhancement may not be included in the legislated increase. Workers who perform the duties of personal care services must be paid equally for equal work. Further, PSWs in retirement homes must also be included, just as nurses in retirement homes were included in the recently announced five-thousand-dollar retention bonus.

Second, our union has repeatedly called on all parties to adopt measures to immediately raise the minimum wage of PSWs to at least $25 per hour and for it to be universally applied across all sectors of the health system, because a PSW is a PSW is a PSW whether they work in a hospital, a nursing home, or in the home and community care sector. And regarding expenses, PSWs should be fully compensated for the true cost of gas necessary to travel from one homecare client to another. MPPs don’t pay for workrelated travel, neither should PSWs.

Third, to successfully confront the health human resource crisis in Ontario, this legislation should encompass a broader group of workers, including registered practical nurses (RPNs) whose wages are far too low. SEIU Healthcare continues to demand the province to raise the wages of RPNs to at least $35 per hour to stop the hemorrhaging of these frontline health professionals.

Fourth, it’s time Ontario adopt sectoral bargaining in healthcare to address the system as a whole. We’re seeing workers jump from one job or sector to another in the hopes of a more secure, better paying, job. Sectoral bargaining would create the wage fairness and full-time jobs required to deliver continuity of care for our seniors and vulnerable patients. This legislation is a chance to bring stability to healthcare services and healthcare jobs.

Finally, we urge the Ontario government and all provincial parliamentarians to include in this legislation the repeal of Bill 124 and help reverse the exodus of workers from the healthcare system. Let’s remove this anti-worker law and show respect to workers who are burnt-out after a crushing pandemic.

PSWs don’t deserve to become a political football caught up in the machinations of parliament on the eve of an election. In the remaining weeks before the house rises and the official campaign begins, let’s work together to pass a plan that works.

Sharleen Stewart
SEIU Healthcare

The Hon. Christine Elliott
Deputy Premier and Minister of Health

The Hon. Paul Calandra
Government House Leader and Minister of Long-Term Care

Peggy Sattler, MPP
House Leader of the NDP Caucus

John Fraser, MPP
House Leader of the Liberal Caucus