More is needed beyond raises for PSWs

TORONTO, April 29, 2014 /CNW/ - The announcement by the Ontario government that it will boost the wages of Personal Support Workers in the province is a welcome first step in addressing serious concerns in the homecare industry, says the president of Canada's largest union in the private sector.

"We can't build decent services for our elderly on the backs of working people," said Jerry Dias, national president of Unifor, which represents more than 26,000 healthcare workers, including PSWs.

The province today announced that it will gradually increase the hourly wage of PSWs by $4 an hour, to $16.50 by April 1, 2016, in hopes of providing more job stability for those already in the job and attracting more young people to become PSWs.

Dias said a welcome next step would be for the province to end the practice of requiring companies to bid for the support contracts, which puts downward pressure on wages.

"When it comes to caring for our parents and grandparents, we shouldn't be in a race to the bottom," said Dias.

The reasoning for increasing the base wage for PSWs – that low wages drive people to precarious employment where they are unable to support their own families while caring for others – is also a good reason to support a higher minimum wage.

"The problems the Ontario government has associated with low wages for PSWs also apply to workers across the economy struggling on minimum wage," Dias said.

Unifor, along with other unions and progressive groups, has called for a $14 minimum wage in Ontario.

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 305,000 workers. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union merged.

SOURCE Unifor

For further information: please contact Unifor Communications Director Sarah Blackstock at Sarah.Blackstock@Unifor.org or (cell) 416-949-1072, or Unifor Communications Staff Representative Stuart Laidlaw at Stuart.Laidlaw@Unifor.org or (cell) 647-385-4054.