- Stephen Lecce, MPP
Ontario Further Extending Temporary Wage Increase for Personal Support Workers
Government Continuing to Support Health Care Workforce
as Part of COVID-19 Response
KING-VAUGHAN ― The Ontario government is investing an additional $169 million to extend the temporary wage increase for personal support workers and direct support workers for the third time since its initial investment last year. This increase will continue until October 31, 2021 and will help stabilize staffing levels and support our frontline health care workers to ensure the province is prepared to respond to any scenario as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve.
“Since day one, Personal Support Workers have been instrumental in assisting vulnerable patients and those in need during our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Stephen Lecce, MPP for King-Vaughan. “It is through their hard work, dedication, and resilience that we continue to support and protect patients and seniors, which is why our government has extended the wage enhancement as an acknowledgment of their immense contributions.”
“Since the outset of the pandemic, personal support workers and direct support workers have been critical in supporting some of our most vulnerable patients,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “As we head into the fall, ensuring Ontario’s personal support workers are supported will ensure patients continue to receive the high-quality care they need.”
The government is extending the wage enhancement for over 158,000 workers who deliver publicly funded personal support services or direct support services in hospitals, long-term care, home and community care and social services until October 31, 2021. This includes:
$3 per hour for approximately 38,000 eligible workers in home and community care;
$3 per hour for approximately 50,000 eligible workers in long-term care;
$2 per hour for approximately 10,000 eligible workers in public hospitals; and
$3 per hour for approximately 60,000 eligible workers in children, community and social services providing personal direct support services for the activities of daily living.
This latest temporary wage increase builds on the government’s previous wage enhancement extension on June 11, 2021, which was set to expire on August 23, 2021. Since October 2020, Ontario has invested $841 million and, with this additional $169 million, will have invested over $1 billion for personal support workers and direct support workers. The province will continue to review the wage increase to inform its next steps to ensure this important investment will bring the greatest stability and support for Ontario’s personal support workers and direct support workers.
“This wage enhancement extension recognizes the vital work and significant sacrifices that personal support workers and direct support workers continue to make to keep Ontarians, including our most vulnerable, safe and healthy,” said Prabmeet Sarkaria, President of the Treasury Board. “We will continue to make historic investments to improve home and community care, long-term care, public hospitals and the social services sector throughout the province as part of our fight against COVID-19.”
“Our government is committed to rebuilding and repairing long-term care in Ontario,” said Rod Phillips, Minister of Long-Term Care. “Further extending the wage increase will help us continue to attract and retain personal support workers who provide residents with the care they need and deserve everyday.”
To protect vulnerable patients and staff in settings where the risk of contracting and transmitting COVID-19 and the Delta variant is higher, on August 17th the Chief Medical Officer of Health issued a directive mandating hospitals and home and community care service providers to have a COVID-19 vaccination policy for employees, staff, contractors, students and volunteers, including personal support workers. This is similar to the vaccination policy requirements currently in place for long-term care homes. Vaccination policies will also be implemented in other higher-risk settings where personal support workers and direct support workers provide care, including licensed retirement homes, congregate group homes and day programs for adults with developmental disabilities, children’s treatment centres and other services for children with special needs, and licensed children’s residential settings.
“We remain grateful for support workers who, throughout the pandemic, have continued to provide vital services to individuals with developmental disabilities and complex needs,” said Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services. “Personal and direct support workers across the province have been instrumental to ensuring our loved ones receive the quality care they need, and the temporary wage increase is meant to recognize and celebrate their important work.”
Personal support workers provide a wide range of services in home and community care, which also reduces or delays the need for more costly care in hospitals and long-term care homes.
In October 2020, Ontario provided $461 million to temporarily enhance wages for personal support workers and direct support workers. This was followed by an extension of the temporary wage increase on March 18 and June 11, 2021.
Through the COVID-19 Fall Preparedness Plan, the government invested $52.5 million to recruit, retain and support over 3,700 more frontline health care workers and caregivers. It is one of the largest health care recruiting and training programs in Ontario history. To date, more than 600 personal support workers, 500 nurses and 130 supportive care workers have been added across the province through this plan.
The temporary wage increase will be reviewed on a regular basis and is intended to be extended until October 31, 2021, in connection with regulations made under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020.