District 6 Council Partners with Ontario Agency on Worker Training and Recruitment

Richard Leblanc’s work on the District 6 Health Care Council has shown him many things, including the dire need for more health care workers in Ontario—specifically, more personal support workers (PSWs).

PSWs provide care to patients at hospitals as well as long-term care homes, private residences, and additional employment settings. Just like in the United States, short-staffing and increased workloads are common in Canada for health care workers, and PSWs are no exception.

“Long-term care facilities are usually funded by residents and the government,” Leblanc said. “And the government funding often falls short to hire enough staff to take care of their residents, so it just becomes a vicious cycle.”


Figure 1: Courtesy Pexels.com

Even though the PSW trade is regulated by the government and requires a certificate, Leblanc realized last year that even if the industry was successful in obtaining more funds, the training itself has not been up to par.

So, he reached out to the Employment Services Centre (ESCPR), a local employment agency in Ontario that works with the government, in order to start a conversation about increasing funds for PSW training, and improving the training itself, along with recruitment.

Earlier this month, the connection paid off, and the agency brought together a working group of local labor unions, health care providers, workers, and members of the Ministry to talk about these issues. It was the first of many conversations the working group will have as they seek to improve the industry.

“One of our goals is to make the trade more accessible financially and to promote it better,” Leblanc said. “This will be good for everyone because we need bodies, we need workers.”

The problem is an old one unfortunately, according to a February 2019 CDC article featuring a former PSW, Ashley Hopkins, who believes funding is a major factor of the chronic shortage, along with fatigue.

“There's a lot of high turnover in those types of jobs cause the job is just so stressful and workers get burnt out at alarming rates," she said.

This affects overall patient care as workers are overloaded and often handling up to thirty residents alone, leaving patients in vulnerable, sometimes inhumane, conditions.

All of these things need to be considered when updating training and curriculum, and improving working conditions for caregivers.

Dave Lipton, a USW staff representative in Ontario, was glad the council was able to bring a labor perspective to the meeting and remind the stakeholders to keep workers’ rights at the forefront of their minds.

“We pointed out that a community effort to tackle the problem is laudable, but part of the problem that can’t be ignored is poor working conditions, including work overload, and low pay,” said Lipton.

To watch a video of a long-term home resident speaking on how the worker shortage affects patients and why things must change, click here.

Press Inquiries

Thank You

Thank you for contacting us. We will try to get back to you in a timely manner.

Media Contacts

Communications Director:
Shannon Devine
416-544-5946 or

Communications Department - Québec
Clairandrée Cauchy

Mailing Address

United Steelworkers
234 Eglinton Ave. E., 8th Floor
Toronto, ON M4P 1K7