Failing Workers and Patients


    Discussion Groups > Home Care Crisis Petition


    June 13, 2009

    France Gelinas, NDP MPP
    5085 hwy 69 North, Unit 15
    Hanmer Shopping Centre,
    Hanmer ON, P3P 1P7

    Dear France Gelinas

    We are writing to you as concerned taxpayers with regards to Home Care in the Greater City of Sudbury and across the province of Ontario in general.

    Initially, the concept of freeing up hospital beds by providing home care to long term care patients which would then reduce the wait time for general care, day surgeries or tests sounded great back in 1997.

    Unfortunately, as it stands now, the province has approximately 26,000 Personal Support Workers who provide home care and are paid approximately $10 to $15 per hour compared to their counterparts at $18 to $22 per hour for working in senior residences, hospitals and nursing homes. In comparison, home care workers need to commute to each client and are not compensated for their gas and time. Home care workers travel long distances at times and are only payed for actual client time. They work 12 to 14 hours per day, but are only payed for 8 to 10 hours. The workers are putting out their own money to do their work. Therefore, their earnings actually drop below minimum wage and it is a shame. It is no wonder the province cannot attract more people to this field. We pay taxes for this service and in turn these valuable workers needed to care for the ever growing and aging population of baby boomers, are being disrespected.

    We are very concerned about receiving this service in the future, which was described by Roy Romanow as “the next essential service”. Who will service this next essential service within our Health Care System if workers continue to justifiably feel unvalued, under payed, under compensated and disrespected? When treated as such with no improvement in sight, workers in this field start thinking of attaining alternate employment and strongly discourage others to seek employment into this “for profit” driven home care sector. We have seen many good workers leave because they could no longer afford to do this work thus further compromising our dignity. We do not blame the workers but rather, we blame our government for bad judgement and for the mis-appropriation of funds.

    Consequently many clients often do not get their care as their home care providers cannot afford the gas to do their job. The employer cannot find suitable replacements due to the shortage of Personal Support Workers. Some employees work 10 to 12 hours or more per day for 12 consecutive days only taking every second weekend off. They become part of the clients family and in some cases the only family some clients have. Many workers are not in this profession for the money! They do this work because they care about people....someone has to! At the same time, many workers need the money and if it is not there they leave this sector of health care for a better paying job or change profession all together! They know that on their days off or when they are ill, for which they are not compensated, their clients do not get the care they deserve and are often found in their soiled briefs exactly where they were left on their last visit. If you treated an animal that would be charged! We as clients often do not even get the courtesy of a phone call advising us that we are not getting service. One has to wonder if the North East Community Care Access Centre (NE-CCAC) is even aware. When the NE-CCAC is made aware of missed visits or concerns are brought forward, nothing is done!

    Home Care is in crisis and needs to be addressed immediately. Although many people may not presently be affected by Home Care personally, they surely know someone who is. It may be a loved one, a neighbour, a colleague, a friend or a friend of a friend. It could be their parent or even their child. At this rate will home care be there for our children and grandchildren? We are concerned about our future as clients and the future of home care. Please help us reverse this crisis that has surpassed its breaking point by bringing its much needed attention to the Provincial Legislature on our behalf.

    Sincerely disappointed and strongly concerned:

    Please go to and sign our petition under the (Home Care Crisis in Ontario) link. (Ffrench petition also available at this site)
    Lets get all of Canada on board and get something done about this mess!
    Home Care Workers deserve to be valued and respected!

    Concerned father of home care client, husband of PSW and also concerned about the future of Home Care.

    Pierre Julien - Sudbury ON

    June 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPierre Julien

    When you start out the post with "We" exactly who is "We" . I only noticed your name on the post. As you started this, I am responding as I am not part of your "We".

    I am confused with regards to this post, are you concerned about health care, patient care, or are you advocating on behalf of workers. The minimum wage for personal support workers who are certified as you know is 12.50. Should an employer pay less then that, I agree this needs to be addressed. You address For Profit Health Care as the main issue, yet plead for a government response to poor service. I find it interesting how pieces of information are distributed into your post. Mis-information regarding wages ie 10.00 for a PSW in the home, and 18-22 in a facility. If you are going to quote on wages, you should quote what those wages contain, do they include benefits, or not, is the wage higher due to long shifts, hard conditions, no benefits, etc. Quoting numbers is an empty statement. As I notice this post is on a union website, I do not see the cost of union dues quoted, which makes me wonder, this seems to be more of a campaign drive then a voice of concern over health care issues. Good luck in your quest, however petitioning already ill people and confusing them with issues of poor health care does not to me seem to project a message of caring about the ill and those in need of service, it projects a message of battering those in a weak moment to sign on with those who have other intentions.

    Interesting concept, accusing the government of not caring about our system, yet brow beat the very people into signing a petition who needs the system and the care that is received. Looking forward to how this turns out. My tax money is not behind this drive. When you start out the post with "We" exactly who is "We" . I only noticed your name on the post.

    As a social worker for seniors in the province of ontario I agree whole heartedely with this petition written by Pierre Julien. I work with seniors with mental health and cognitive problems and it is down right scary to see what they and their families have to struggle with in trying to remain in the community. Most seniors I work with cannot afford to pay for private care or even think of going into retirement homes (again due to costs). Often at this stage they are not "ill" enough to even qualify for LTC placement. Instead they live at risk at home and are told by health care professionals (including myself) that they have to wait for a "crisis" to occur before there needs will addressed. A crisis is often a hospitalization or a crisis LTC placement from the community - which can only occur within certain criteria.
    The province wants to reduce the amount of money that is spent in ER departments and ALC beds - as these costs are far more expensive then providing health care. However there are fundemental issues in terms of lacking the proper human resources (PSW's and RN's) to fill the need out there. Our population is again and the need is only getting worse. More incentives need to be made for people to work in these healthcare field - and this includes ideas suggested by Pierre. Maybe schooling to be offered free in exhange for a ceratin number of years of service in the field (similiar to doctors).
    There is a crisis out there - and it you are unaware - just wait till you or a family member needs the will find out all too quickly.

    Obviously Pierre is writing on behalf of the homecare clients and the workers who have to work within this resource poor sector. The for-profit healthcare system is a precipitating factor in this reality with which we find ourselves in.

    Submitted by Kristy

    September 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKristy W - Barrie Ontario

    I think the issues raised in this petition are very important. The way the system works now is companies providing home care health services bid on the contracts.
    They are usually awarded for three years. This means wages for home care workers are kept low so the companies can be competitive.

    It also means that there is no long-term job security for the front line workers. If their company does not get it's contract renewed, they must find another company to work for, perhaps even having to take lower wages. For the client it means they may get a new team of workers - something that is stressful for them in most cases.

    The point is that PSW's doing in home care do not get the same wage as a PSW in a facility. Often with homecare there are no benefits either, and no guaranteed hours. However the work is more challenging and dangerous. You are alone in the home, and must handle by yourself anything that comes up. You do not have a partner to help with lifts, or anyone to help if someone turns violent. When you are dealing with cognitively impaired people, this can and does happen.

    Yes, the jobs are different, but is one really more valuable than the other? Would any other profession accept a much lower rate because of the location of the work? The educational requirements are the same for both, why not the compensation?

    This is an issue everyone needs to be aware of, as everyone will be affected at some point. If someone in your family develops a serious injury, illness, or becomes to frail to stay in their own home without help, you will need a PSW. Either that, or do all the care yourself. PSW's allow people to keep their dignity and independence, allow caregivers a much needed break, and give family members peace of mind knowing someone will be in to care for mom, dad, grandma, grandpa etc. Why do we sell them short.

    I had to quit my job and now get paid more for bookkeeping than I ever did for caring for the frail, ill and dying. I miss my job, but simply could not afford it anymore.

    Former PSW

    September 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFormer PSW