One Step Closer to Expanded Protections for Ontario’s Personal Support Workers
The Ontario government has announced the next step in its efforts to expand WSIB coverage to workers in residential care settings
CLAC is pleased that Ontario's Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, Monte McNaughton, is moving forward with a consultation on expanding Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) coverage to workers in residential care settings like retirement and group homes.
This move was an important recommendation to come out of the operational review launched by the Ford government in 2019. The report from the reviewers contained two recommendations that pertained to coverage:
- The WSIB and the government should extend mandatory coverage to developmental support workers (DSWs) and those working in residential care facilities.
- The WSIB should move to an “exclusionary model” for coverage on a go-forward basis for new employers and industries. This would not affect currently nonmandatory covered industries, but it would apply to any new firms or industries operating in the province.
The consultation is the next step to advance these important changes. The government is seeking feedback from stakeholders on the impact of expanding coverage on worker protection; benefit levels; and the recruitment and retention of personal support workers (PSWs) and DSWs. The consultation is also asking for feedback on a possible threshold that would have to be met before coverage should be expanded.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, CLAC PSW members in these settings have been denied access to income support benefits by private insurers when they have contracted coronavirus in the workplace. These same workers would have had benefits if they were covered by WSIB.
There are also many situations unrelated to the pandemic where protection through private insurers has proved to be inferior and inadequate for PSWs and DSWs in residential care settings. The lack of coverage was called an “anomaly” by the government-appointed reviewers and requires immediate action to level the playing field and provide proper support.
CLAC will be responding to the consultation and bringing forward our members’ experiences to support the expansion of coverage and a permanent legislative fix for other sectors. CLAC sees this move a significant step forward and hopes that the consultation will be swiftly followed by legislation to put in place this enhanced safety net for these healthcare and community care heroes.