Province Continuing to Support Frontline Health Care Heroes in Fight Against COVID-19
TORONTO ― The Ontario government is investing $141 million to extend the temporary wage increase for personal support workers and direct support workers in publicly funded home and community care, long-term care, public hospitals, and social services sectors. This temporary wage increase will continue until August 23, 2021, and will help stabilize, attract and retain the workforce needed to provide a high level of care during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our government is committed to supporting personal support workers and direct support workers as they care for Ontarians during the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “These wage enhancements recognize personal support workers and direct support workers for their dedication to their patients, and help ensure they have the resources they need to continue delivering quality care in our communities.”
The province has been providing a temporary wage increase since October 1, 2020, to over 158,000 workers who deliver publicly funded personal support services, including:
- $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 March 18, 2021, which was set to expire on June 30, 2021. Since October 2020, Ontario has invested $841 million to support personal support workers and supportive care workers. The province will continue to review the wage increase to inform next steps after August 23, 2021.
The government also recently announced an investment of over $115 million to accelerate training for up to 8,200 new personal support workers for Ontario’s health and long-term care sectors. Registration for the program is available through the Ontario College Application Service.
“Personal support workers are the backbone of Ontario’s long-term care system,” said Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care. “Extending this wage increase will help to attract and retain personal support workers in long-term care which is so important as they provide our loved ones with the care they need and deserve everyday.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted everyone in different ways, but we know it has had a profound impact on vulnerable Ontarians who rely on support workers in their day-to-day lives,” said Todd Smith, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services. “By further extending this temporary wage increase, we can ensure that our most vulnerable continue to receive the care they need and we continue to recognize the dedication and commitment of support workers in all sectors throughout the pandemic.”
“Since the outset of the pandemic, personal support workers and direct support workers have made enormous sacrifices to keep Ontarians safe and healthy. They have been an invaluable part of our fight against COVID-19, and we can’t thank them enough for their service,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, President of the Treasury Board and Minister of Finance. “This extension of the temporary wage increase recognizes their heroic work to safeguard the most vulnerable in our province, while building on our historic investments to improve home and community care, long-term care, public hospitals and the social services sector.”
- 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, 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. This is in addition to thousands of new staff hired through other programs like pandemic pay.
- The temporary wage increase will be reviewed on a regular basis and is intended to extend until August 23, 2021, in connection with regulations made under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020.