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When it comes to navigating home care, we have your back

Finding help for your loved one when they need it the most is never easy.

That’s why Gaye Moffett truly is a ‘gem’ (pardon the pun) when it comes to advocating for her clients and the public in general.

Here are a few ways she pitches in: 

Talking to insurance companies

Being fortunate enough to have private insurance may be a wonderful thing, but getting it approved can sometimes be a challenge.

Insurance companies need to know that the care you need reaches the threshold for a nurse, not just homemaking or personal care.

If for some reason you get turned down, you may not know what to do next. 

This is where Gaye steps in on behalf of her clients. She will contact your insurance company herself and explain why a nursing level of care is required, which helps speed up the approval process.

Representing her clients with Home Care Ontario 

One of the benefits of the Canadian healthcare system is that it combines public options with family-funded care.

This creates a flexibility that allows folks with private insurance to supplement what they’re already eligible for. However, this can also make the system more complex and tough to navigate.

That’s why Gaye takes an active role with Home Care Ontario, to be aware of gaps in the system so she can advocate for family-funded care providers.

By staying in the loop, Gaye helps her clients get the care they need while reducing demand on the public system.

Identifies and advocates for key pieces of legislation to reduce home care costs for Ontarians

By networking with other home care professionals and developing strong working relationships with officials at every level of government, Gaye has her eye on the big picture. 

Through her understanding of how each level of government supports home care services for all Canadians, she can effectively advocate for specific legislation changes. 

In addition to playing a part in the Ontario government’s legislation that requires the licensing of Temporary Help Agencies, Gaye is working behind the scenes on two more key pieces of legislation that will make home care more affordable at the provincial and federal levels.

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Critical legislation changes just made home care safer in Ontario

As the founder of GEM Health Care Services and member of the board for Home Care Ontario, Gaye Moffett does a lot of advocacy work for her clients behind the scenes.

After spending the past few years lobbying the provincial and federal governments about three key pieces of legislation to keep clients safe and lower the cost of care, she’s happy to report a recent victory.

The Government of Ontario has passed legislation requiring Temporary Help Agencies to be licensed to continue their operations. 

The eligibility criteria to be licensed is stringent to protect both employees and clients, as well as preventing the loss of tax dollars. 

“We’re certainly in favour of this legislation,” said Moffett. “It stops people from putting up a ‘fly-by-night’ temp agency on Kijiji without any oversight or regulation.”

How do you get a licence?

The bar for a Temporary Help Agency to meet the licensing criteria includes:

  • CRA business number
  • WSIB certificate
  • Liability insurance and indemnification
  • Third party quality control, eg. ISO or other relevant certification
  • Criminal background and vulnerable population checks for all staff
  • Putting $25,000 in escrow to cover wages in the event of bankruptcy
  • Application fee of $750

How does this legislation help?

While the legislation protects temporary employees from unfair wages and exploitation in any industry or sector, it’s especially important for home care staffing agencies.

“Our clients are vulnerable and working conditions for our employees can be precarious due to the unpredictable nature of the work,” said Moffett. “They need a staffing agency that knows how to conduct a care assessment so that clients are getting what they need, and staff are being matched to the right clients on a consistent basis.”

Some online home care staffing agencies that call themselves a “matching platform” claim to lower costs by “avoiding overhead” (such as care assessment conducted by a licensed health care practitioner). 

These outfits will also need to apply for a licence before January 1, 2024 and meet the same criteria or face stiff penalties. The government started accepting applications in July, 2023.

“While temporary help agencies are vital to Ontario’s businesses and jobseekers looking to get their foot in the door, for too long they have operated in a grey zone that allows criminals to prey on vulnerable workers,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development. “Our government’s licensing system will ensure law-abiding businesses can have confidence in the THAs and recruiters they work with and that those who abuse workers face the harshest fines in Canada and are banned from operating in our province.”

How will it be enforced?

Penalties for contravening the act will be stiff, ranging from $15,000 for a first offense, to $25,000 for a second offense within three years of the first, and $50,000 for a third offense within the same three year period.

Officers will be looking for these contraventions:

  • operating as a temporary help agency without a licence
  • acting as a recruiter without a licence
  • clients knowingly using an unlicensed temporary help agency, or
  • employers, prospective employers or other recruiters knowingly engaging or using the services of an unlicensed recruiter

And if you’re wondering whether the staffing agency that’s sending your home care worker is licensed, you’ll be able to check with an online search of the government’s database.

Check out our other “Buyer Beware” posts for more tips on screening your caregivers for safety and security, as well as their qualifications.

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Why community PSW’s deserve better compensation

People who receive home care services love their personal support workers (PSWs). 

And why wouldn’t they? PSWs provide the personal care seniors, people with disabilities and other vulnerable populations need to stay in their homes — like bathing, providing medication, meal prep and light housekeeping.

Community PSWs spend more time with home care clients than any other home care worker and become an important presence in their lives. They play a critical role in our healthcare system by significantly improving quality of life for their clients in a cost effective manner — most of the dollars spent on PSWs goes to care rather than on operating an institution. 

So why are community PSWs paid a lot less than PSWs who work in the hospital or long term care? 

Before the pandemic, home care PSWs were paid an average of $16 – $17 per hour. Those who worked in a hospital or long term care facility made $25 to $30 per hour. While the government did increase pay for community PSWs, it’s still falling short by an average of $5 per hour.  

This doesn’t make sense. PSWs in the community need the same skill set and perform the same tasks as those who work in institutions. If anything, home care PSWs have a tougher job because they work alone and in more challenging conditions.

We hire a lot of PSWs and send them everywhere — sometimes almost all the way to Kingston —  but we can’t guarantee them a 9-5 schedule because our clients’ care plans vary and people’s needs are always changing. It’s just the reality of the homecare sector. That’s why a lot of PSWs must work for more than one agency. Understandably, they’ll take whoever can give them the most hours and the best shifts.

The government could help solve this by giving care provider agencies more funds to compensate our PSWs’ for their travel time. We pay a flat rate between shifts, but there’s no incentive for us to pay more for their travel time because we won’t get paid for it. Every time our PSWs need to travel, providers like GEM lose money. 

That’s why we want the Ontario government to invest more in this critical service, so care providers like ours don’t have PSWs leaving us to work for minimum wage jobs that give them steadier work.

The important role PSWs play in our health system has been neglected for long enough.