An open letter to Premier Dalton McGuinty

TORONTO, April 22 /CNW/ -

    April 22, 2010

    Hon. Dalton McGuinty
    Premier of Ontario
    Room 281, Main Legislative Building
    Queen's Park
    Toronto, Ontario M7A 1A1

Dear Premier McGuinty,

On behalf of the Personal Support Network of Ontario, I am writing in response to the Minister of Health's direction to the Health Regulatory Advisory Council (HPRAC) that further work to define an appropriate oversight body for personal support workers (PSWs) is not required.

This direction comes in spite of the increasingly important role PSWs play in Ontario's health system and the contrasting inconsistency in training, lack of standards for certification and unclear accountability. As you are likely aware, there are nearly 100,000 personal support workers providing care to some of Ontario's more vulnerable citizens.

We take this opportunity to also offer our assistance in achieving the stated aims of the 2005 referral to HPRAC--to take steps to ensure we have a trained, consistent, accountable workforce. PSWs, through the Personal Support Network of Ontario (PSNO), have developed a set of recommendations that if implemented, will further professionalism among PSWs, enhance delivery of care and increase public confidence. They are, in order of priority:

    1.  Accreditation of PSW Training Programs: Establish a third party
        process for program evaluation and approval of all PSW training
        organizations which allows for provincial and provider priorities.

    2.  Define Practice Standards and Core Competencies: Update and develop
        practice standards and defined core competencies to ensure clarity on
        the roles and responsibilities of PSWs.

    3.  Certification of Personal Support Workers: Introduce a
        certification/licensing process for PSWs which will define minimum
        standards and competencies for PSWs and allow for title protection.

    4.  Personal Support Occupation Registry: Establish a provincial registry
        for personal support occupations which will provide demographic
        information on the workforce and act as a tool for public safety.

Each of these four recommendations will support the improvement of the quality of care provided by PSWs and increase the public confidence in our provincial health care system. The accountability of training programs, the quality outcomes for personal support and safety measure to protect the public should be overseen by those who know most about what the workers do--Personal Support Workers and their employers. With these measures in place, the province will be further ahead in reducing health care costs by ensuring the right care, is providing in the right place, by the right care provider.

I respectfully urge your government to work with PSNO to implement these measures. The time to act is now. Here is why.

The 100,000 PSWs in Ontario provide nearly 75 percent of the services to seniors and those with disabilities through home care, community support and in long-term care homes. With the number of Ontarians aged 65 and over expected to more than double in the next 25 years, there will be a corresponding need for expanded home and community support services and more personal support workers to deliver those services. Yet the province will face a critical shortage of PSWs unless steps are taken to retain some of the 9,000 workers who annually leave the profession as well as recruit new workers. This workforce decline can be attributed in part to the lack of formal recognition of the profession, clear standards of practice for the profession, clear career pathways and the resulting complications with employers and clients that confuse, discourage and weaken the morale of our professional caregivers.

In the absence of a third party accreditation process, the ability of the various institutions to provide training to PSWs takes on added importance. Although, of the estimated 7,000 annual graduates from PSW Certificate Programs, only 20 percent are from Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities recognized community college programs. Almost 45 percent of graduates attend private career colleges with the balance (35 percent) attending board of education adult learning programs or non-profit organizations. The lack of an accountability mechanism overseeing curriculum content and the quality of the training provided puts the potential credibility of graduates at risk and jeopardizes public confidence in the care they are receiving.

A series of negative media stories questioning the qualifications and training of some PSWs--including a Toronto Star expose last year on private career colleges--have raised the level of urgency for the sector to become more accountable and develop measures to ensure its integrity. PSWs are ready to take the next step.

Personal support workers have begun to organize themselves and are prepared to take ownership over the future direction of their profession. There is now a formal organization representing PSWs--the Personal Support Network of Ontario (PSNO). Our Network represents any individual providing personal care in the province including but not limited to: PSWs, Attendant Care Workers, Home Support Workers and Health Care Aides. Our organization provides a forum to build a strong, cooperative personal support service sector where health care providers, managers, trainers and employees are equal contributors to strengthening the profession.

I would be pleased to speak with you or a member of your government further about this issue. The PSNO will be encouraging individual members to actively support our recommendations through our website at

About PSNO

The Personal Support Network of Ontario is the voice of Personal Support Professionals and strives to help personal support service professionals carry out their work more effectively by offering access to information, resources and tools as well as providing opportunities to connect with a network of professionals in the field. PSNO's vision is to build a strong, cooperative personal support service sector where providers, managers, trainers and employees are equal contributors to strengthening the profession. For more information please visit:


    Lori Holloway Payne
    Director, PSNO
    416-256-3010 Ext 242


For further information: For further information: Lori Holloway Payne, Director, PSNO, (416) 256-3010 Ext 242,,

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