Horwath reveals details of her universal Pharmacare plan
April 24, 2017
Pharmacare for everyone! Andrea Horwath and ONDP commits. Building the service the way Tommy Douglas did. One province to get it going!
Personal Support Workers
With the Provincial Government trying to get acute care patients out of hospital sooner to save costs and making it a priority to help the elderly stay in their own homes longer, the health care system is relying more and more on Personal Support Workers (PSWs). These workers are being asked to serve in long-term care facilities and in clients’ homes. They are being asked to travel long distances, put in non-regular hours (sometimes on short notice) and to perform procedures of care (such as lifting patients for bathing, preparing special meals and changing dressings).
They are not well paid, even though they must take several months of training and monitored practice before receiving a certificate. At just over $15/hr, even after 20 years of service, they are barely making a living wage (as determined by the United Way for rural Ontario).
To complicate matters, some companies who employ PSWs (such as Red Cross Care Partners and the VON) are unionized, and some are not (such as Bayshore Home Health and Paramed). That means replacing striking workers is relatively easy. It also means that those who do strike end up winning benefits for non-unionized workers too.
The Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound NDP stood with Personal Support Workers during their strike in December 2013.
Here are two accounts of what we discovered …
The Ladies on the Line A letter to the editor of the Sun Times from David McLaren.
There is more to the story than what the media has told you about Personal Support Workers striking for a better deal. In fact there is a lot more, as I found out last week when I stopped to talk to the folks on the picket line in Owen Sound .
I spoke with a woman who had to choose between getting her car repaired and paying the rent. She chose the car because it was the only way she could get to “her clients” – the men and women who rely on her to keep them out of hospital.
Then there is the story of another woman who, recently divorced, struggled to take the PSW course while renting a poorly heated trailer. She survived two bouts of pneumonia and a car that refused to drive in reverse. That was tough.
Many of the women I met were closing in on senior-hood themselves. We have to put aside the notion that people in part time or low wage work are young and in it for the experience and pocket change. Some have been working with “their clients” for over 20 years. For them an increase in pay is more than a living wage; it is a sign of respect for their professionalism.
After all, they’ve completed a course at a community college and put in 500 hours of supervised work in the field or a nursing home. Before they are hired they must be checked out by the police. They belong to a union (the Service Employees International Union) that supplies additional training and, through the grievance process helps both workers and employers to conduct themselves with respect.
For the women on the picket line, Personal Support Work is a profession. But you’d never know it by the way they’re treated.
The top of the wage scale is $15.02 an hour – even after 25 years. They must work 1,352 hours every year to get and hold onto their benefit package – not an easy job if clients are admitted to hospital, or pass on. Even with benefits, there is no sick pay – they must use their vacation time, and file a report saying that they are ill and how long they plan to stay ill.
They get $.34 a km when they travel, using their own car which they must maintain and gas up. Their $15.02 an hour doesn’t kick in until they’re in the door of a client.
Once in the door, they do a lot more than wash dishes and prepare meals. They check and treat bed sores. They make sure people are taking their medications. They may have to use lifts in order to assist in bathing or mobility. They check catheters and colostomies and clean those areas to prevent infection. They clean the incontinent. They feed those with dementia, and those who have lost the use of their limbs, and those in palliative care.
The ladies on the line talked to me about their work with a dedication to “their clients” that was heart warming and inspiring. I know I couldn’t do what they do.
Which makes it all the harder for them to hear that, in some areas, their employer is busing in replacement workers. It’s not so much the use of scab labour that bothers them (although it does). It’s that they don’t know who is visiting their clients. Are they students who have not completed their training? Have they had a police background check? This is what’s eating at the women as they pound the picket line.
Our health care system depends more and more on keeping people in their homes. It’s extremely cost-efficient and, we like to think, more caring. But we should not boast about the care we give to those of us who can’t care for themselves, until we take care of those who give it in our name.
NDP Supports Striking PSW ' s (Interview on CFOS) Thursday, December 19, 2013 12:29 PM by Manny Paiva
Striking Personal Support Workers with Red Cross Care Partners are getting support from the New Democrats.
The Vice President of the Bruce Grey Owen Sound NDP, Karen Gventer, says she is concerned about the reports on the picket line.
Gventer tells Bayshore Broadcasting News the managers are making errors while filling in for the striking workers.
There are also reports some clients are refusing care from replacement workers.
And according to Gventer, some clients are not being seen even though they need a daily bath -- and others are not even getting a phone call about their care.
Red Cross Care Partners insists they are working with the CCAC to ensure their clients with the most urgent needs are being seen.
There are also reports on the picket line that replacement workers have been hired and have been offered bonuses to cross the picket line and care for the elderly.
But Red Cross Care insists they are not hiring replacement workers.
4500 personal support workers -- who are members of the Service Employees International Union -- have been on strike since last Wednesday.
There are 124 PSW ' s on strike in Grey Bruce -- who work in Owen Sound , Kincardine, Port Elgin, Walkerton and Hanover .
Gventer is concerned about reports that striking workers are receiving intimidating robo-calls, saying their jobs will not be there when the strike ends.
Gventer calls the actions "illegal" and designed to erode collective bargaining power of Personal Support Workers.
The SEIU members are striking for an increase in wages -- the PSW ' s currently earn $15 an hour and have to pay out of pocket to travel to clients.