Staffing crisis threatens home and community care sector with 421% increase in RN vacancies and 331% increase in PSW vacancies

A new survey from the Ontario Community Support Association shows vacancies for front-line staff in the sector nearly tripled from 2020 to 2021

TORONTO, February 10, 2022 /CNW/ – The Ontario Community Support Association (OCSA) is sounding the alarm on the state of its sector with the results of the latest vacancy rate survey*.

OCSA logo (CNW Group/Ontario Community Support Association)

According to recent OCSA Member Survey results for 2021, in their top three frontline positions (PSW, RN, RPN) for full-time and part-time employment, 17.4% of positions are vacant . This is almost triple the results of last year’s survey, which showed a vacancy rate of 6.8%. Additionally, 26.1% of all RN positions are vacant, an increase of 421%, while 14.2% of full-time PSW positions are currently vacant – an increase of 331% of full-time PSW positions vacant in the sector.

OCSA is a member organization representing over 220 agencies across Ontario who together support more than one million Ontarians in home and community care services. The sector cares for a variety of clients of all ages across the province, with a range of care needs, including vulnerable clients on dialysis and home ventilators. Services include nursing, personal care, rehabilitation, adult day programs, supportive housing/assisted living programs, meals on wheels, transportation, transitional care and more.

“Our member organizations such as VON and March of Dimes can no longer sustain current service levels without adequate resources,” says OCSA’s CEO. Deborah Simon. “These are non-profit organizations that depend on government support and fundraising. Many have long waiting lists and no staff to serve customers. The shortage has led to longer waiting lists, client triage, and the current trajectory will result in the cancellation of programs or services and with it, an increased burden on caregivers as well as additional pressures on long-term care (LTC) and hospitals across Ontario.”

Staff are leaving the home and community care sector in droves, many to other sectors where there are incentive opportunities to strengthen similar roles in hospitals and LTC. This means that PSWs in the home and community care sector have the same education, but earn on average 19% less than PSWs in the hospital sector and 9% less than PSWs working in long-term care. Registered nurses in home and community care also earn significantly less despite having the same education – an average of $11.00 less per hour, 32% less than in hospitals.

OCSA is calling on the government to urgently address this issue by:

  • Repeal Bill 124 – Home and community health care service providers cannot compete with LTC/hospitals who are able to pay higher wages for the same staff roles

  • Making the pandemic pay off permanently

  • Acknowledge the massive pay equity problem

  • Set up an urgent sector task force to address these HRH issues and report back to government with a system-wide plan

“We’ve seen this crisis quietly build as one arm of the system receives funding while the other, which is designed to keep people safe at home and ease the burden, is in dire straits. .There is no more lead, “says Simon. “We are ringing the alarm bell before it is too late.”

About OCSA

Celebrating its 30th anniversary, the Ontario Community Support Association (OCSA) represents nearly 220 not-for-profit organizations that provide home care and community support services to more than one million Ontarians. Our members help older people and people with disabilities to live independently in their own homes and communities for as long as possible. These proactive and cost-effective services improve quality of life and prevent unnecessary hospitalizations, emergency room visits and premature institutionalization. They are the key to a sustainable healthcare system for Ontario. For more information, visit www.ocsa.on.ca or @OCSATweets.

About the survey *
OCSA conducted two surveys, one in February 2021 and one in February 2022. Both surveys received more than 60 responses from OCSA members. The returned samples represented more than 11,000 frontline positions in both surveys. Both surveys asked members to identify the number of FT, PT and casual RN, IAP and PSW/care worker positions in their organizations and the number of people in these positions on the 31st of Decemberst2020, January 30st2021, the 31st of Decemberst2021 and January 30and2022. We used December 2020 and December 2021 data due to the completeness of the data. Some entries were missing January 2022 The data.

SOURCE Ontario Community Support Association

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