This PSSP in London, Ont., says the company he works for is more interested in profits than care
Personal support worker Mark Clancy of London, Ont., was earning $16.50 an hour when he started working for Paramed Home Health Care Services in 2018.
In four years, the company increased its hourly wage by two dollars.
As part of his job, Clancy, 43, visits clients’ homes, bathes them, dresses and feeds them, administers medication and changes dressings. It’s not an easy job, but Clancy loves the job.
He thinks, however, that Paramed, which is owned by long-term care conglomerate Extendicare, seems more interested in making money than ensuring the well-being of its customers and employees.
I hear all the time about a PSSP shortage. There is no shortage of PSWs. They are just at jobs that pay and respect them more.– Mark Clancy, PSW, London, Ont.
“It’s nothing but profit,” said Clancy, who gave notice on Friday to step down as shop steward with the London local of SEIU Healthcare, the union representing Paramed employees.
“They [Paramed] kind of screws up their workers for profit. It’s hard enough to make a living with today as it is,” he said.
CBC News spoke to Clancy and three other Paramed employees in London who wished to remain anonymous for fear of job repercussions. But the three echoed Clancy’s concerns about wages, hours and gas consumption, and feared the company was sending underqualified staff to do the job of a PSW.
“As a full-time employee, you expect to work 75 to 80 hours every two weeks and we’re wasting time,” said Clancy, who currently works around 60 hours every two weeks. “They take hours and customers from their full-time workers to give to new hires or home support workers (TSAs) who are paid at a lower rate.”
CBC News has reached out to Paramed for comment.
In a statement emailed this week, Paramed said: “With the current staffing crisis in the home care sector, there should be no situation where a member of staff gets fewer hours than this that he makes available to us.”
Paramed employees use their own vehicles to drive to customers’ homes, and Clancy and other employees CBC News spoke to had concerns about the mileage and how much they are paid while commuting.
Clancy drives about 430 kilometers every two weeks for her job.
We are actively exploring ways to increase support for caregivers on the ground and hope to share updates with our team very soon.”– Paramed spokesperson in an emailed statement to CBC News
“We get paid separately for travel time,” said Clancy, who admitted those terms were negotiated with the union. “We get paid less than our normal wage. We get paid minimum wage when we travel from client to client.”
They also get paid for gasoline, but fares have not increased even as fuel prices have skyrocketed.
“When we talk about it, we’re told, ‘Your gas was negotiated in contracts and if your vehicle is using too much gas, I suggest you get a better vehicle,'” he said.
Clancy drives a van.
“I can barely afford to work because of the price of gas.”
In the emailed statement, the Paramed spokesperson addressed concerns about rising gasoline prices.
“While we compensate our staff for travel time and gas consumption, we know gas prices are on the minds of Canadians across the country,” the email reads. “We are actively exploring ways to increase support for caregivers on the ground and hope to share updates with our team very soon.”
More monitoring needed
Clancy said Paramed and the union representing the employees were working on a new contact for the London local, but the matter was in arbitration.
CBC News reached out to Paramed on Friday for more details on the status of the talks, but had not received a response by late afternoon.
Meanwhile, Clancy said things have come to a boil for many employees.
“I know that our company has a very high turnover. People quit because they can’t take it anymore.”
Clancy believes personal support workers should be regulated the same way nurses are by the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO). In the spring of 2021, the Ontario government introduced legislation that would establish the Health and Support Providers Oversight Authority, to regulate those who provide health and support care services, including personal support workers.
Since the announcement, work has been done to put together an interim board of directors, with a chair and three part-time members in place since March 25, 2022, according to the province’s website.
On Friday, CBC News attempted to reach the province to comment on the status of the bill, but had not yet received a response as of press time.
“I want a body that regulates PSWs that makes sure we get decent wages,” Clancy said. “The government launched the $3 top-up, which really helped a lot,” but it’s still not enough, he said.
Paramed in London held a job fair on Friday
During the pandemic, the Ontario government began raising PSWs’ wages by $3 an hour and has since made that increase permanent, raising Clancy’s total hourly wage from $18.50 to $21.50. .
“I honestly think any PSW that has a certificate, that’s in the field, should make at least $25.”
He also wants more control over companies such as Paramed.
“I hear about a PSSP shortage all the time. There’s no PSSP shortage there,” Clancy said. “They’re just at jobs that pay and respect them more.
“I went into a Tim Hortons one day on my shift and I was talking to one of the workers about being a PSSP and they laughed and said, ‘There are three of us in this Tim Hortons only who are PSSPs”, but they make more money at Tim Hortons.
London morning8:18Home care fears profit over patients