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Government understands importance of PSWs: Nicholls

Posted: February 6, 2020

(February 6, 2020)

By: Trevor Terfloth, Chatham Daily News (print edition)

A Southwestern Ontario MPP says the provincial government is well aware of the of the importance of personal support workers, as well as the challenges the long-term care sector faces.

Chatham-Kent-Leamington MPP Rick Nicholls was responding to the Ontario Health Coalition and Unifor, organizations that are raising the alarm to what they’re calling a crisis in care that is impacting the recipients and providers themselves.

“Our government is committed to building 15,000 new longterm care beds over the next five years,” the Progressive Conservative member said on Wednesday. “That’s why we’re investing almost $2 billion to build 15,000 new beds and redevelop another 15,000.

“That’s a big chunk of money.” Nicholls said there needs to be ongoing discussion with sector partners since “they’re the experts” in knowing where the needs are.

He added he sympathizes with PSWs experiencing stressful working conditions and burnout.

“I really feel for them,” he said. “Obviously they’ve got a big heart and they want to care for someone’s mother or father.”

While more needs to be done to ensure the best possible care, Nicholls said he disagrees with the health coalition’s push for a minimum of four hours of care daily per resident, calling it unrealistic.

He also believes that PSWs should negotiate with the homes themselves for better wages.

Rebecca Bozzato, press secretary and senior communications advisor to Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, the province’s minister of longterm care, said the government understands the concerns.

“Staffing plays a crucial role in ensuring that the needs of all long-term care residents are being met, and our government understands that there are real challenges when it comes to recruiting and retaining PSWs and other front-line staff,” Bozzato said in a statement. “Our government has been clear that we need to address issues surrounding staffing in the long-term care sector, that’s why Minister Fullerton is currently developing a comprehensive long-term care staffing strategy with commitment to implement by the end of 2020.”

Since the creation of a dedicated ministry for long-term care in June, the minister has worked with sector partners to understand the unique challenges the long-term care system faces with staffing and “how we best work with them to address these challenges,” Bozzato added.

“Recognizing that a motivated workforce is critical to a sustainable long-term care system, we are working to improve working conditions to promote recruitment and retention in order to meet current and future staffing needs.”

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