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OPSEU calls on government to offer free PSW college education to protect seniors from COVID-19

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Toronto – OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says the Ford government has made “good first steps” to protect long-term care residents from COVID-19, but that even bolder action is needed because the danger is so extreme.

“Anybody with a loved-one in a long-term care home will appreciate the Premier’s decisive steps today to prevent more outbreaks and more death,” said Thomas. “But simply restricting visitors doesn’t go far enough to protect the people who spent their entire lives building and contributing to our province.

“We need more personal support workers (PSWs), and we need them as quickly as possible,” said Thomas. “It’s time for the Premier to offer full tuition support for PSWs through our community colleges. It’s time to get an army of trained and certified PSWs out on the front lines of this pandemic.”

Earlier this month, the operators of the province’s long-term care homes said they were suffering severe staffing shortages and issued urgent calls for the government to help recruit and train more PSWs.

“This government has shown throughout the pandemic that it is willing to look at the facts, listen to the experts, and take the extraordinary measures that are needed,” said OPSEU First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida. “As this second wave crashes over us, it’s time for more extraordinary measures to keep vulnerable seniors safe.”

Thomas said OPSEU members stand willing, ready and able to work with the colleges to implement accelerated PSW programs to accommodate an offer of free tuition.

“By consulting with faculty and staff – and their union – I’m confident the colleges could in short order field programs that quickly graduate students without sacrificing standards,” said Thomas. “I’m confident we can accomplish both of these goals during this once-in-a-lifetime health emergency.”

For more information:  

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931