PSWs steering our healthcare to the future

Call to Action

Debra Slater, PSW for 15+ years and Coordinator of the Empower PSW Network, spoke at a joint press conference to urge the government to improve the working conditions of PSWs.

About the Network

Jacqueline Campbell, caregiver and committee member, shares the mission and vision of the Empower PSW Network.

Our Purpose

Personal Support Workers (PSWs) play an essential role in our healthcare system. The care we provide keeps people living in their homes, enabling them to have the best possible health. However, we are often overworked and underpaid. Our jobs are non-unionized, part-time and temporary.

The Empower PSW Network is a policy coalition network created by PSWs for PSWs. We advocate for fair compensation, more permanent full-time jobs with benefits, and empowerment of workers to prevent workplace discrimination. Our goal is to drive system-level changes that result in better work conditions for PSWs, ultimately improving care and outcomes for patients. 

PSWs, community members and anyone interested in advocating for the workers are urged to join the movement

Our Mission

The mission of Empower PSW Network is to raise awareness, establish equity and develop interventions to change employers and government policies around precarious work.

Our Journey

Phase 1: EMPOWER Research Project

The Empower PSW Network started from a project aiming to understand the working conditions of PSWs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal is to use the research findings to inform policy reforms and advocacy for changes to employment standards.

January 2020

Launch of the EMPOWER (EMployment and PrecariOus Work in Toronto’s Health Sector: Evaluation and Research) research project

March 2020

Recruitment of PSW Advisory Committee Members to guide the study design of the EMPOWER project

April 2020

Publication of an Op-Ed in Toronto Star titled Lack of protection for personal support workers emblematic of their treatment by the system

June to December 2020

Survey of 631 PSWs to understand their working conditions, including job security, work policies and personal experiences

February to May 2021

Semi-structured interviews of 31 PSWs who responded to the survey to further understand how working conditions impacted their well-being

May 2022

Publication of a research paper

Hapsari, A. P., Ho, J. W., Meaney, C., Avery, L., Hassen, N., Jetha, A., Lay, A. M., Rotondi, M., Zuberi, D., & Pinto, A. (2022). The working conditions for personal support workers in the Greater Toronto Area during the COVID-19 pandemic: a mixed-methods study. Canadian journal of public health = Revue canadienne de sante publique, 113(6), 817–833.

June 2022

Publication of a research paper:

Pinto, A. D., Hapsari, A. P., Ho, J., Meaney, C., Avery, L., Hassen, N., Jetha, A., Lay, A. M., Rotondi, M., & Zuberi, D. (2022). Precarious work among personal support workers in the Greater Toronto Area: a respondent-driven sampling study. CMAJ open, 10(2), E527–E538.

Phase 2: Empower PSW Network

A year after conducting the research project, it's time to put knowledge into action. We created the Empower PSW Network to steer our healthcare to a future where PSWs are empowered, supported and provided better work conditions.

Phase 3: Network Evaluation

Researchers from the Upstream Lab will evaluate the Empower PSW Network to understand how bringing together PSWs influence policy and systemic changes related to precarious work.