The Ontario government says it will extend the wage increase for personal support workers (PSW) until Aug. 23 in order to continue to “stabilize, attract and retain the workforce needed” as the province battles the COVID-19 pandemic.
Health Minister Christine Elliott announced the $141 million needed to extend the increase of $2 or $3 per hour depending on the sector on Friday.
The increase has been in place since October 2020 for the over 158,000 personal support workers in the province and has been extended a couple of times already.
“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 Elliott in a release. “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 increase had previously been set to end on June 30.
The announcement comes after the province said it was also investing $115 million to accelerate training for over 8,000 new PSWs in Ontario’s health and long-term care sectors, which were ravaged throughout the pandemic.
The province’s long-term care sector has been devastated by the pandemic, where thousands of residents have died and staffing levels have declined dramatically.
Advocates have said previously that low wage has been a contributing factor in the province’s PSW shortages.
Minister of Long-Term Care Merrilee Fullerton called PSWs the “backbone” of the sector and said she hopes the increase will continue to attract more workers to the area.
— With files from The Canadian Press