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Ontario’s Personal Support Workers Face Time and Cash Crunch

New report identifies key factors for why personal support workers leave jobs in long-term care homes


November 12, 2019

OTTAWA, ON – A new report by think tank Cardus has found evidence that personal support workers (PSWs) in Ontario’s long-term care homes are spending an estimated 32 minutes per shift on paperwork. That’s as much time as is allotted for getting five residents out of bed and ready for breakfast every morning.

“In a job where every minute counts, increased regulation is forcing personal support workers to sacrifice care of residents in favour of filling out forms and documents,” says Brian Dijkema, co-author of People over Paperwork and Cardus Vice President of External Affairs. “Often, PSWs are spending unpaid time off-shift to finish their paperwork. This feeds into the shortage of PSWs in Ontario because folks who are over-stretched and unsatisfied leave long-term care homes for greener pastures.”

People over Paperwork also finds wages for most PSWs in Ontario’s long-term care homes have not kept up with inflation. So, full-time PSWs have endured the equivalent of a six-percent pay cut since 2009. In effect, PSWs were making almost $2,800 less annually in 2018 than in 2009.

“If Ontario wants to attract and maintain an effective workforce for long-term care homes, it must find ways to improve personal support workers’ job satisfaction,” says Dijkema. “It can start by focusing paperwork on necessities rather than red tape, so workers can spend more time caring for residents. To do this requires a deeper partnership among government, long-term care homes, and workers to create lasting solutions.”

People over Paperwork recommends the Ontario government take four steps:

  • Recognize that PSWs are overburdened by paperwork and face serious wage problems
  • Support existing efforts by PSW employers and unions to solve workers’ challenges
  • Take seriously the recommendations those involved in long-term care make
  • Convene a long-term care action group of government, employers, and labour to find lasting solutions

People over Paperwork was co-authored by Cardus researcher Johanna Wolfert and Cardus Vice President of External Affairs Brian Dijkema. The report is freely available online.


Daniel Proussalidis
Cardus – Director of Communications
613-241-4500 x508