Updated on March 11, 2022
Are you, or someone you know, thinking about becoming a personal support worker (PSW)? You're not alone, as interest in this occupation has increased considerably in the last few years. For general information about all things PSW, you can first visit our PSW blog section, but if you are considering this career path and what's stopping you is not being entirely sure how much a PSW salary in Canada is, then this is the article for you. Let’s dive right in.
The average personal support worker salary in Canada is $37,050 a year, which equals $19 per hour. Like it happens in every other career, entry-level workers with one to four years’ experience make less money, around $34,000, while workers with more than 10 years of seniority make more, around $45,000. This information was gathered from talent.com and payscale.com, based on data from more than 3,000 salaries between 2020 and 2022. Another source, the Canadian federal government's Job Bank, says that PSW and other home support related occupations usually earn between $13.46 and $23.08 an hour across the country.
Now that we cleared that up, let's go more in-depth about personal support workers’ salaries in Canada. These tend to vary depending on other factors apart from years of experience. For instance, a personal support worker's salary can increase depending on the city or province where they live (in highly populated provinces like Ontario, Quebec, and BC they make more, as well as in remote locations like Nunavut and the Northwest Territories), the type of place where they work, the type of work performed, particular skills they might have, their overall education, and if the worker is unionized or not.
Regardless of these variables, it is considered that PSWs are among the highest paid in this category across Canada, according to the Department of Employment and Social Development. The category is “Assisting occupations in support of health services”, which has the National Occupational Classification (NOC) number 341.
FUN FACT: The NOC is Canada’s unique system for describing occupations. It tells people information like general duties, educational requirements, and more. It is especially helpful for new immigrants, young workers, and people who are changing their careers later in life. The system classifies occupations depending on skill levels and duties, assigning a number for each occupation or group of similar ones.
Ontario has more than 100,000 active personal support workers and many more currently in training to meet the high demand for this service. The province has been making great efforts to improve work conditions for these workers and to help future workers start their careers in this field.
In Ontario, a PSW makes between $16 and $18 per hour, but those who work in other settings like city-owned nursing homes serving the senior population and those who work for hospitals make around $25 per hour, according to various sources.
PSW salaries are expected to keep rising in Ontario in the following years as the demand for these support workers continues to increase due to how the aging population is projected to grow. The Ministry of Finance assures that by 2046 the province will have 4.5 million seniors aged 65 or more (23.3%), almost doubling the current senior population in the province, which is 2.5 million or 17.2% (2021).
Another factor that is expected to increase PSW wages in Ontario is funding for this type of healthcare service, as more and more people turn 65 years of age. Employment growth, as well as the number of positions that are projected to open up when active personal support workers start to retire in the following years, also mean the possibilities for future PSW in terms of career opportunities and salaries are positive.
Ontario is the most densely populated province in the country, according to Statistics Canada, with 14 million people as of 2021, when the last official census was conducted. With this number of inhabitants, this is the province with higher demand for PSWs in the country.
In Southwestern Ontario, one of the most populated regions of the province, PSWs are essential workers in the community, providing much-needed support to thousands of families. The biggest cities in the region are Kitchener, London, Windsor, Guelph, Brantford, and Sarnia. Here, the average PSW salary is $18 per hour.
For several years, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care of Ontario has been working on a "PSW Workforce Stabilization Strategy". Part of the strategy includes an initiative designed to increase the PSW salary up to $4 per hour in a three-year period. This is known as the "PSW Wage Enhancement Initiative" and it applies only to PSWs who provide publicly funded services. Thanks to this increase, since 2016 these personal support workers are entitled to a minimum of $16.50 per hour.
According to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, 95% of the eligible organizations pay the minimum provincial rate to their PSWs, while working with the remaining 5% to do the same.
The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has continued to advocate for PSWs and has recommended further increases to their salaries on top of the base wage of $16.50, as part of the aforementioned PSW Workforce Stabilization strategy.
Today, PSWs working in publicly funded organizations can also expect to be paid an hourly wage increase of $1.00 per hour, depending on base salary, to a maximum of $19 per hour, retroactive to April 1, 2016. This is the most recent mandatory increase, and it applies to temporary, casual, part-time, or full-time employees that provide services to the community, but only to hours spent doing direct client care (travelling times or education times are not contemplated).
In Ontario, many Personal Support Workers have been eligible to receive a temporary pay increase of $3 per hour since October 2020. The benefit was extended multiple times but was ultimately supposed to end in October 2021. However, the local government announced a final extension of this benefit granted to support the PSW population during the Covid-19 pandemic until March 31, 2022.
The pay increase has been available for PSWs working in publicly funded organizations such as long-term care homes, hospitals, group homes, and other home care settings when they are funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care in Ontario, and it has benefited over 158,000 personal support workers and direct support workers, according to the government of Ontario.
There you have it. Everything you need to know about PSW salaries in Canada and specifically in the province of Ontario, where the highest percentage of the population lives. If you want more information about personal support work, don't forget to visit our PSW blog section where you will find valuable information on all things PSW. And to start looking for PSW jobs, don't hesitate to sign up to our platform, Caring Support.
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