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Pandemic pay and looking ahead

VON PSW, Beena, with a client (2018)

Article by Jo-Anne Poirier, President and CEO, VON Canada. Originally published on LinkedIn.

As the fight against COVID-19 carries on, I continue to be inspired by the resilience and determination of those on the front line of our health care system. Among those leading the charge are the workers in the home and community care sector, including those in our VON Canada family. I know I speak for everyone when I say that these people deserve our appreciation and praise for their tireless efforts.

I wish to thank Premier Ford and his Government for recognizing the contributions of home and community workers through their inclusion in the pandemic pay program. The program provides front-line staff with a temporary wage increase for their work during COVID. This initiative is a thoughtful and meaningful step in helping to support our workers and supporting the stability of our health care system through the pandemic.

In the April announcement of the payment program, Premier Ford referenced the “Ontario Spirit” and its presence in the “everyday acts of heroism, courage, and compassion by our front-line workers.”

I could not agree more.

The selfless contributions of nurses, personal support workers, therapists and other health professionals within home and community care are not unique to the pandemic landscape. While the current risks and challenges faced by these workers are heightened, their dedication to delivering critical services to hundreds of thousands of patients in Ontario remains unchanged.

If and when we emerge from these extraordinary times, we must continue to recognize and reward the contributions of our front line in home and community care. While enhanced financial compensation is never the primary motivation of those who work on the front lines of home and community care, it is a meaningful symbol of recognition of the integral role they play in our health care system.

If we have learned anything in this pandemic, it is that home is the safest place to be. In spite of that, access to home care has been reduced in Ontario as we prepared for surges in hospitals. We have learned that the contributions of a nurse or PSW in home care are no less important that those of a nurse or PSW in a hospital or other institution – and yet, the funding model for home and community care does not enable us to pay these vital front-line workers the same wages as their counterparts receive in other settings.  

The lessons learned from this pandemic are many. For me, the value of home care has never been more apparent. We need a health system that recognizes and builds on that value.

In these uncertain times, there remains one absolute constant for me. I commit to continuing to advocate for our nurses, PSWs and other front-line workers, as they show up each and every day for our loved ones.

Please be safe and well.

Jo-Anne

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Accreditation Canada is an independent, not-for-profit organization that consults with experts to develop health care standards based on best practices. They accredit a wide range of health care and social services providers, including hospitals, nursing homes, long-term care facilities, clinics, and community health programs. Accreditation Canada has been helping providers improve health care quality and safety for more than 55 years.