Canada’s Shortage of Personal Support Workers

It has become clear over the past few years that personal support workers are a dying breed. There are less and less care workers in an industry that is growing due to aging populations. The Baby Boomer Generation, which has the largest amount of people in any generation, is aging and are just starting to need Personal Support Workers. Over the next 20 years, as Baby Boomers retire and begin to need more support, the need for personal support workers is going to increase drastically.

This is a growing issue that needs to be solved sooner rather than later because already personal support workers are facing longer hours in what can be considered an extremely tough job. The job can be physically rigorous, but can also have an emotional toll as well. Personal support workers truly connect with their clients and watching them struggle or having to deal with sickness and health can be extremely difficult. It’s a hard job that receives little thanks, which is part of the reason that the amount of personal support workers available is decreasing.

More workers are leaving the industry than are being trained and qualified per year. This is a dangerous truth for our country because without the proper amount of workers in the industry, a lot of people will not receive the care they need and in the years to come it is only going to get worse. It seems that part of the reason this decrease in workers is occurring is in fact the nature of the job. It doesn’t offer a very high salary and requires long and hard hours. The people who become personal support workers do it because they want to help others and this is their passion. Unfortunately, a low paying salary will discourage many from entering a position despite their level of passion.

Personal support workers who work for institutions such as hospitals or nursing homes and generally have a more steady, balanced schedule. For home care workers, a much different schedule is necessary. Oftentimes these workers start in the very early morning and work until the late hours of the night. These home care workers will have multiple patients per day that they must try to administer medication, prepare meals, clean the house, etc. With the decrease of these personal support workers, hospitals and nursing homes will be more understaffed than they already are and many patients who require home care, won’t be able to receive it because home care workers will have too many clients already. The workers are being stretched too thin.

Although this shortage has increasingly negative connotations on our society and the care of our people, it is important that we brace ourselves and try to fix the issue before its way too late. Not only do personal support workers deserve higher wages, but support systems should be put into place for those interested in working in this field. Incentivising learning programs and trying to get the younger generation interested in this industry has become increasingly important. No person should ever feel that they or their loved ones are at risk of not receiving care and it should be one of our highest priorities as a country to ensure this never happens.

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