June 20th, 2020

Horwath: Dangerous practice of having PSWs work multiple jobs must stop

Family deserve answers after COVID-19 was allowed to spread outside Rosslyn to seniors receiving home care

HAMILTON – Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath says Premier Doug Ford’s choice to continue to force underpaid personal support workers (PSWs) to work multiple jobs to make ends meet has already had devastating consequences, and has to stop.

Reported in the Hamilton Spectator, a family contracted COVID-19 after a PSW was doing home care visits while also working at the Rosslyn retirement residence, the site of Hamilton’s worst outbreak. Michela Caruso, 87, has died. Her husband Giacchino Caruso, 88, is in hospital. Their daughter Maria McChesney and her son also tested positive. McChesney landed in intensive care while battling the virus.

“My heartfelt condolences are with the entire Caruso family during this incredibly sorrowful time. Their family’s story is devastating, and they deserve answers about how this happened,” said Horwath. “Compounding their pain and suffering is the fact that this was an avoidable tragedy. From the beginning of this pandemic the Ford government should have restricted PSWs to one job, and mandated higher wages and a full-time hours guarantee that would allow them to do that. Instead, PSWs are being forced to work in multiple jobs to make ends meet, and have been denied access to the PPE they need to stay safe and prevent the virus from spreading. They can go from retirement homes to long-term care homes to home-care visits and to other low-wage jobs in the community.

“PSW wages should have gone up long before this pandemic. Allowing private and for-profit subcontractors to underpay workers and give them only part-time hours was never acceptable.”

Horwath has been calling for PSWs and other workers in any care or congregate living setting to be restricted to one job – with better pay and full-time hours – since early in the pandemic. Ford and his ministers have not done that.

The PSW who came into close contact with the Caruso family was working for a private home care subcontractor, who allegedly wasn’t providing appropriate PPE. The Rosslyn retirement facility is a private, for-profit enterprise. Horwath and the NDP oppose private, for-profit corporations making money on home-care and long-term care.