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Liberal assault on choice for PSWs

Toronto – Miranda Ferrier, President of the Ontario Personal Support Workers Association (OPSWA), and Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), are demanding answers after the Ontario government announced a mandatory registry for personal support workers without consulting PSWs, and funded a new training program for PSWs in exclusive partnership with one union, SEIU Healthcare, without giving PSWs a choice. 

From the Ontario Liberal budget:

The government will establish a mandatory registry for personal support workers ….” p. 121

…the government will work with SEIU Healthcare to explore options around the creation of a training program and facility for the ongoing skills development of Personal Support Workers (PSWs), who are critical in the delivery of home care services across the province.” p. 60

The budget announcements raised serious concerns from both OPSEU and OPSWA presidents.

“The 2017 Liberal budget fails personal support workers by introducing a mandatory PSW registry,” said Ferrier. “With this announcement, the government is pursuing a course of action that they failed at so miserably only a year ago. The registry opened and closed within three years, and that failure cost Ontarians over $5 million.”

“We certainly support providing PSWs with all the training and ongoing development they need to provide the best possible services to their clients, but the place to offer that training and development is in our public colleges,” said Thomas. “We feel strongly that this shift in PSW training from Ontario’s well-respected college system to SEIU lies in the fact that the Director of Government Relations at SEIU Healthcare, Michael Spitale, also happens to be President of the Ontario Liberal Party,” added Thomas.

“This whole affair smacks of shady inside relationships that dangerously erode union democracy and the rights of workers to choose,” said Thomas.

Friday, May 19 marks Personal Support Worker Day in Ontario, which is an important time to reflect on the valuable work done by PSWs and on their rights to have a say on the future of their profession.

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931; Miranda Ferrier, 226-606-2592