June 13, 2012
Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to provide Members with an update on our government's commitment to establish a personal support worker registry.
Personal support workers, or PSWs, play a crucial role in our health care system and make an enormous contribution to the health and well-being of Ontarians.
There are an estimated 90,000 PSWs working in Ontario and performing essential services for their clients.
They help with daily activities such as personal hygiene and delegated health procedures like changing dressings, among others.
They help people of all ages recover from illness; live with a chronic disease or disability; and live at home with independence and dignity as long as possible.
One year ago, I committed to establishing a personal support worker registry to better recognize the work they do for Ontarians while helping to meet the needs of the people they care for.
As Yvonne Greaves, a personal support worker here in Ontario states:
"I feel the role Personal Support Workers play in the health system is finally being recognized in this province."
I'm very happy to report that the PSW registry is now online and open for registration in Ontario.
This is an important milestone in an initiative that will help better meet the needs of seniors, people with disabilities and those with complex needs…along with their families.
Once the personal support workers register, employers, clients and family caregivers will be able to confirm that their PSWs are registered.
The registry will promote greater accountability and transparency and will validate the contributions of PSWs.
I'd like to thank the Ontario Community Support Association and all members of the PSW Registry Steering Committee for their leadership in the development and implementation of the registry.
The steering committee is made up of a wide-range of experts including PSW advocacy organizations, client and family advocacy groups, unions, employer associations and educational associations as well as several front-line PSWs.
My heartfelt appreciation goes to everyone who worked so hard to make the registry possible. We will continue to rely on your advice as we move forward with implementation of the registry.
I'm pleased to say that our government has already taken a number of steps in supporting our PSWs.
We invest $10 million annually to train PSWs for work in the community care sector in areas such as palliative care, acquired brain injury and mental health.
Since 2006 we've provided $27.4 million to increase the base wage of qualified PSWs and improve travel compensation, training and other benefits.
I am pleased to report to the legislature that the registry, www.pswregistry.org, began registering PSWs on June 1, starting with PSWs in the home care sector.
By August 2012 we hope to have the majority of the 26,000 PSWs in the home care sector registered. This registry will continue to expand and will eventually include PSWs working in hospitals and long-term care homes.
Personal support workers play a critical role in bringing our government's Action Plan for Health Care to life.
The plan is a blueprint for health care transformation to address both the demographic and fiscal challenges we face.
A big part of this transformation involves a shift away from acute and residential care toward more home and community care.
Our goal is to make Ontario the healthiest place in North America to grow up and grow old.
And we will get there by focusing on wellness, providing faster access to family health care and providing access to the right care at the right time and in the right place.
For our seniors, the right place to receive care, whenever possible, is at home, in their community, close to their friends, family and neighbours.
Better access to home care services allows seniors to age in dignity and with independence at home. And most of this care will be provided by personal support workers.
We are driving real change at an accelerated pace because we have to provide better care for an aging population while achieving better value.
Last month, our government announced that we will be adding an additional three million hours of care by PSWs over the next three years, including an estimated one million more hours this year.
We are taking strong action by choosing to freeze total compensation for our doctors, so that we can afford home care for 90,000 more seniors.
This investment is part of our Budget commitment to increase funding for home and community care by four per cent over the next three years – that's an additional $526 million annually by 2014-15.
As we implement our Action Plan, we know we can depend on personal support workers to keep providing vital services that make such a difference to the quality of life for so many Ontarians.
No matter the setting where they work, personal support workers make an enormous contribution to the health of their clients – and to our entire health care system.
I want to say a heartfelt thank you to Ontario's dedicated personal support workers for all that they do on behalf of Ontarians.
And now, thanks to this registry, they will get the recognition they so richly deserve.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker
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