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Council of Canadians Supports Justice For PSWs

Council of Canadians staff, along with chapter members from Guelph, attended a rally at Queen’s Park to support Personal Support Workers who have launched a province wide strike and walked off the job today (December 11th/13). Workers who have been without a contract since April, and have been in a legal strike position for weeks, have voted to reject a tentative agreement with the largest homecare agency in Ontario (a for-profit company).


Sharleen Stewart, president of SEIU Healthcare accurately points out that, “These workers are tired of being pushed around and taken for granted…They are paid poverty-level wages of $15 an hour and are expected to pay for gas out of pocket when they drive long distances to make home visits. In the last two years PSW earnings have been reduced by about 7% as a result of a wage freeze combined with inflation and a massive increase in the price of gas.” 

Ms. Stewart said the government of Ontario has been warned that its homecare system is falling apart as agencies misuse public funds and exploit the workforce.

“We estimate 50 cents of every dollar given to Red Cross ($143 million this year) is skimmed off for bureaucracy, excessive executive pay and profit. Where is the accountability in this system for delivering quality care to seniors and vulnerable clients?”

Last year the CEO of the Red Cross Society was given a 9% pay increase, bringing his salary to $297 thousand, which is 11 times the average salary of a PSW.

About 4,500 PSWs will be on strike. “We take this action with a heavy heart,” said Ms. Stewart. “Nobody wants to be on strike in this economy and at this time of year, but the fight for justice doesn’t always fit into a neat calendar. Our members are determined to take a stand.”

The Council of Canadians continues to campaign to strengthen public health care and stop privatization. We believe that everyone – provincial and territorial governments, First Nations and the federal government – should come together to ensure the 2014 Health Care Accord delivers better, more efficient, quality public health care that includes a national pharmacare program and better home care and long-term care for our aging population. All Canadians should have access to the same services and quality of care provided by a national, public system.  

For more information on the Council of Canadians Health Care Campaign please see: http://canadians.org/healthcare