Who are Ontario’s personal support workers?

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  • Dawn Ewart Cook says:

    My mother is 99 years old and living in a Retirement Home. She is hearing and visually impaired, has mobility issues and dementia. The LHIN sends in PSW from three agencies.
    They will not send in a female PSW although requested numerous times. The agency maintains this is discrimination because the male PSW is black. Mom has been offered 3 male different PSw in her time at the Retirement Home. Two white and one black. She has refused all three. She accepts care from black female Psw. The PSW oftentimes do not show up especially on weekends. The agency said that they are not required to fill out the flow sheet.
    My mother can’t tell me if the agency showed up and provided any care. My Mom’s teeth are black due to lack of prompting her to brush her teeth. I had to phone the agencies numerous
    times to ensure she was being showered as the schedule given to them from The LHIN specifies.
    PSW should have a standardized education to make sure that they are equally educated and
    PSW must be regulated and licensed if they are allowed to provide care whether in a hospital,
    Longterm Care, Retirement Home or n the community. There is no accountability in a profession that is assuming responsibility for the frail elderly who cannot advocate for themselves. Licensing and Regulations would also help to protect PSW in their workplace.
    It is a failure of the government to not require licensing of an organization that provides care.
    Doctors,nurses, physiotherapist, massage therapists, chiropractors, dentists, teachers all required regulation.

  • Ann Buchanan says:

    I am a health care aide, I have not worked as a health Care Aide in 22 years, I was just wondering if I would have to do more schooling to become a P.S.W.
    Thank you



  • Jeyabalasingam. Singarajah says:

    I am a p s w. We need a organization to register. And we need a union for all p s w.we doing very dangerous job. We put our life frontline. But we never be look affter. If you work in garbage man they get goo pay and union. Why is frontline workers be panisht by employers. We are not slavery. I hope someone will helped us..this is the time to happen!

  • Vel McKinnon says:

    PSW’s need the extra help at night at their jobs — not by themselves. And especially not just one Nurse on shifts either. We’re all human, we’re not machines.

  • Lisa Reasbeck says:

    Today the Ford Government announced a pay freeze in the public sector….are psws that work for homecare agencies part of this? Today we had a vote with our union and our union rep said to accept it bc of the Ford governments announcement….is he correct in this or was he just wanting us to vote yes with the deal?…our vote ended up in declining the offer but still wanted to know? Thanks :)

  • Janine says:

    Please correct your article: This is what your article states, and you should research all the facts prior to publishing : the third educational stream for PSWs in Ontario is through municipal boards of education, which adhere to a curriculum set out by an organization called the Ontario Community Support Association. These programs vary in length and comprise less than 600 hours. They cost somewhere between $500 and $1,500.
    I work for a school board and our program is an accredited program and is 720 hours in length and has an excellent reputation in our county and surrounding areas. The Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (now known as the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development) laid out a set of 14 vocational standards for PSW programs which include a demonstrated ability to work with clients experiencing dementia and with patients receiving palliative care. The school board programs follow all of the requirements set out and also was active in asssisting setting up these standards.

    • Bonnie says:

      I also work for a school board, and am familiar with other school board programs. We meet the same vocational standards that community colleges do, but at a significantly lower cost, while also allowing students to earn a high school diploma (if needed) at the same time. I do not know of any school board programs that are under 600 hours in length – the ones I know of are all significantly over that minimum requirement. Our standards are high and our graduates are excellent PSWs successfully enjoying rewarding careers working in the community, Long Term Care Facilities and many other health care settings.

  • Harriet says:

    I have paws for over 10 years.They don’t do anything but gossip.Today as usual one did laundry and took it back to me (wet) then hang it everywhere.I am very ill with double lung cancer,damaged heart from radiation and many more problems including multiple sclerosis.I call the supervisor and she doesn’t get back to me. I even had my pain medication stolen many times and the girl still works there.Just saying the truth that you can’t trust some of them

  • Doreen Rocque says:

    Excellent article. Very informative. I would love to see this article printed in all newspapers to offset all the negative press that PSWs receive. This negative press is making it harder to recruit PSWs. Families and friends would also benefit by reading this article to help them understand the issues and become advocates for changes to improve the quality of care and life for those who need assistance with their daily living.

  • Annie says:

    In my experience, PSWs are not making $25-30/hr. The few lucky ones who land a job in a city home do, the rest are lucky to make $20. PSWs and RPNs are incredibly underpaid for the important work that they do. As an ADOC I see this daily. The system will fail without PSWs and RPNs however they are the most overlooked groups, most people seem to focus on RN to patient ratio.

  • Jenny says:

    I would like to remind everyone that it is possible once every decade or
    so for a leftist party to change something that needs to be changed.
    Even though I oppose the Liberal party on most everything else, I believe
    this (concept in theory) to allow private individuals who
    receive homecare the power to choose their own caregivers is an
    absolute must. Hear me? AN ABSOLUTE MUST.

    My mother receives homecare at my home twice daily, and I can
    tell you for a fact that the agencies suing the government
    over this (see link below), are involved in daily fraud
    of taxpayer’s money that easily runs into the tens of MILLIONS.
    They are not accountable in any way
    financially to the LHIN offices, they over bill I would
    estimate at least 50% or more of what actual hours they actually
    provide to clients who are (like my mother) on a daily basis
    having their mandated visit time cut in half or more
    which is illegal all the while telling the government they
    are providing the full hours and billing them and getting
    paid for it without ANY verification going on.

    Personal/family self directed home care is THE ONLY WAY to stop these
    so called “not for profits” from committing fraud upon the taxpayers on a daily basis running
    overbilling scams into the tens of millions if not hundreds of millions yearly.

    Homecare/PSW agencies to sue government

    I urge everyone to consider the idea that just because the Wynne
    government is being sued, does not automatically mean that
    it is a legitimate lawsuit.

    Of course these agencies are going to sue the government,
    are basically untouchable from.

    Please support a self directed home care system to take
    the power away from these untouchable home care agencies
    and put the power of choice back into the families
    to choose their own caregivers.

    • MEDINE says:

      We are in Ontario and this is has become like a horror story. My spouse has been receiving LHIN services for 7 years and never had anything like this before. After his hospital discharge all agencies providing services for him were changed without explanation. Even when we insisted to go back to the agencies that we are familiar with the LHIN staff refused to make the change. We had 39 hours of physio that was not delivered but the LHIN billed for it , PSWs are tracked by an app coming on location chatting and smoking on the driveway littering the neighbors’ loan instead of working, PSWs who trys to boss me around – e.g. engaging in an argument when I ask for help to change my spouse diaper , leaving early but fraudulently recording different time when confronted claiming I have recorded her and trying to intimidate me saying “ it is illegal to record” ( guess what , it is not illegal and the police does it all the time) but if she was to talk nicely to me why would this even be a concern. It looks BAD on the LHIN to have included her libelous statement in my spouse file claiming that it was abusive. I was not abusive and I can prove it! Complained to her supervisor and he tried to shut me up. I had wound care nurse not showing up, wound dressing not changed for 4 days and getting infected. A PSW sitting on my spouse bed , walker and personal devises fiddling on her phone when there is work to do. This is abuse of public funding without control.

  • D Sage says:

    As a PSW for over 10yrs. I feel that working 12days straight and 2 days off too much. The government states that the employer can force an employee to work 6 days a week, which gets doubled. This leads to higher employee turnover in the homecare sector, illness, depression/anxiety, childcare worries, burnout and more. The overhead for vehicle cost is much higher than in an institutional setting, insurance is higher, chance of accident or loss of life as well because of changing weather. Our company has experienced both. 5 days on 2 days off should be the norm. Overtime should be voluntary NOT mandatory. The turnover of employees would certainly be less. My father is now in LTC, and the girls there cannot believe I work 12 days straight. They say that 9 is more than they can handle.

  • Jessi says:

    Thank you all for raising awareness to society,
    It’s also very encouraging to see Professor L.Bulmer contribute to this article!

    GBC Student

  • Clover Bell says:

    I totally agree PSWS should be paid more but also believe the RPNs also should be paid more they are also doing double duty .1 monitoring psw ,residents ,there family members ,working short ttttthelping the psws with there work plus doing there own work and completing raps coding assessments charting dressings meetings dealing with diffiult family members and staff doing just as much as RN but getting paid half as much the Rpn is caught right in the middle ,you the wonerful psws doing lots of hard core work and above the Psw youthe Rpn then RN so guess who is in the middle with none of the glory yup u got it RPN stuck in the middle like a dog

  • Anne Harrison says:

    In many of the nursing homes that I have visited, many PSW’s perform tasks that are not personal care. They empty garbage cans, they collect dirty laundry and put away clean laundry. They change bed linens, make beds, set tables, serve food and clear tables. All these tasks fall under the house keeping heading that individuals themselves pay for, but are performed by PSW’s whose salaries are paid for by health care. The definition of personal care is a gray area in LTC and duties vary widely from home to home.

  • Lisa Hoffman says:

    As a Psw it is nice to be recognized for our hard work but yes we are underpaid and in a lot of cases not appreitated as been called just( ass wipers) that’s doing this job going on 18 years and it’s not a easy job.people need to really understand what we do.

  • Cameron Clark says:

    I have gone back to school to be a PSW after 27 years in public health. I felt disillusioned working as a public health manager in a job that seemed out of touch concerning addressing any real modern adverse health situations. I can say that the training is very competent and all-encompassing and the clinical practice experience tackles the emotional challenges in a thoughtful manner. The irony is that the discrepancy in pay is the recipricol of my two career experiences but money, status and privilege does not always reflect meaningful work.

  • Keith Meloff MD FRCPC Neurologist says:

    PSW’s perform essential work in hospitals and long term care facilities.
    At Baycrest Centre, hundreds of PSW’s work PRIVATELY supporting residents in long term care at that institution.
    Their work is paid for by the family of the resident.If they were to withdraw from the institution, the institution would have to close! It simply could not provide the necessary care from its per-diem allotment from the MOH.
    It is also the case that many residents at Baycrest have private duty nurses.
    This also is a fact of life at Bridgepoint health. I have no doubt that these privately funded services are growing steadily over time across much of the province, putting the lie to the myth of free universal health care.
    Is it not remarkable that these private but essential services are permitted in Ontario, but privately funded hospitals/clinics
    are forbidden and illegal, and recently graduated nurses, educated and trained in Ontario, must seek work in the USA and abroad because they cannot find full-time permanent work in Ontario? I anxiously await a serious discussion of these issues. Respectfully submitted, Keith Meloff MD FRCPC ( Pediatrics and neurology) Toronto.

  • Lenora Carriere says:

    Here in Alberta we struggle with similar issues. This is a large unregulated workforce that delivers the majority of direct care to our patients/clients.
    Our “health care aide” employees work in all areas of care (home care, supportive living, long term care, acute care (hospitals) and group homes. They are a valued member of the health care team.
    Alberta recently opened a provincial health care aide “directory” however registration is voluntary not mandatory. Performance issues or conduct is not part of the Alberta HCA Directory. Cases where employees are not performing are handled by the employer, however this does not prevent them from crossing the street and working for another employer undetected.

  • Janet Greenley says:

    This problem has been going on since the seventies, when the original Health Care Aide program was established. It was going to be registered. We were all assigned registry numbers to be used for that very purpose.

    As to the ratio of PSWs to residents in long term care home, the method of calculation RAIs, is poorly done, as a number of staff bodies who do not assist with personal care, or feeding are brought into this equation. It looks wonderful on paper, but in reality it is disgusting.

    Being a Health Care Aide since the seventies,in long term care homes, and home care, along with having parents needing home care, I have learnt a lot about the systems. I was very active in many courses and committees throughout my employment as a Health Care Aide.

    I loved my job. However by the time I retired ( 60 ) there was not enough time to give the proper care, respect, safety and human companionship. No time to assist in walking rather than using a wheelchair, toileting rather than using an incontent product, assistant to dress rather than dressing. Even though you are told independence is important,which I believe is absolutely true, time does not allow it.

    Enough said. Still too frustrating to think about it. Hope I am never going to be in that position.

    • Darla Belanger says:

      Finally! Someone has said the same thing I’ve always said. Thank you Janet. I started in the early ’80’s in long term care and Health care aids were always facing shortages! Even though you can not work as a PSW today without being certified, many LTC facilities even use housekeeping staff, kitchen staff and Activity staff to fill in (as PSW’S) when short staffed. Now THERE’S an accident waiting to happen!

  • Susan Monaghan says:

    Given the vulnerable population they serve, they need to be regulated.

    Compensation should reflect accountability regardless of sector.

  • Shelley says:

    Yes -absolutely regulated .
    No – not paid appropriately


Dafna Izenberg


Dafna is the Managing editor of special projects at Maclean’s Magazine.

Maureen Taylor


Maureen Taylor is a Physician Assistant who worked as a medical journalist and television reporter for the CBC for two decades.

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