Low-waged home care workers in Simcoe/Muskoka are counting down to a strike deadline of January 27 after an insulting offer of 8 cents per hour by ParaMed Home Health Care. ParaMed is the largest home care corporation in Canada, owned by for-profit giant Extendicare.
OPSEU/SEFPO Local 393 represents ParaMed’s Personal Support Workers (PSWs) and Home Support Workers (HSWs) in Simcoe/Muskoka. ParaMed pays them between $16.67 and $19.70 per hour.
ParaMed home care workers provide personal care such as bathing and personal hygiene, toileting, dressing, meal preparation and social support to clients who live at home in individual dwellings as well as clients who live in Simcoe/Muskoka area retirement homes.
“We are asking for a 2.5% per year wage increase,” said Cheryl Bumstead, Local 393 President and Bargaining Team Chair. “We think that’s more than reasonable during this time of record inflation.
“ParaMed has refused to budge from their offer of 8 cents per hour in the first year for our lowest-paid members who earn $16.67 per hour. They also want our members who earn $19.70 per hour to get no increase at all for three years. There’s no way we can accept that.”
Local 393 home care workers report that they are so understaffed that they can get caseloads of up to 24 retirement home clients in a single 8 hour shift. Workers assigned to clients in individual homes report long drives, no breaks and double bookings due to understaffing. It leads to fatigue, stress, injuries and burnout for staff, and decreased quality of home care for vulnerable clients.
“For-profit home care corporations like ParaMed can’t retain staff because they pay poverty wages, even though they’re getting increased funding from the government,” said Lucy Morton, Chair of OPSEU/SEFPO’s Community Health Care Professionals sector and Region 2 Vice President.
In their 2022 second quarter Shareholders’ Report, parent company Extendicare reported that the Ontario government provided a 3% increase in home health care billing rates in April 2022, on top of a 1.9% increase in October 2021.
“ParaMed and Extendicare need to use that 5% increase in funding to increase wages and attract more staff – not to line the pockets of their shareholders,” said OPSEU/SEFPO President JP Hornick. “Home care clients deserve better – and so do our hard-working members who provide that care.”
SOURCE Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/SEFPO)