Ontario PSWs are a step closer to regulation

By Published On: June 29, 2021Categories: Articles

On June 3, 2021, Ontario’s Bill 283, the Advancing Oversight and Planning in Ontario’s Health System Act, 2021, received Royal Assent, bringing Ontario’s Personal Support Workers (PSWs) a step closer to becoming part of Ontario’s regulated professions.

Amongst other changes, the bill enacts the Health and Supportive Care Providers Oversight Authority Act, 2021 (the “Act”), which will provide for a new regulatory framework and a new regulatory body known as the Health and Supportive Care Providers Oversight Authority (the “Authority”) once in force.

The Authority would be responsible for the “oversight” of the PSW profession. The oversight model provides for voluntary registration of personal support workers and more consistency in PSW education, training, and standards of practice.

The objects of the new Authority include, for example:

  • Establishing and maintaining educational and skills-based qualifications for PSWs
  • promoting the provision of safe, competent, ethical, and high-quality health services and supportive care services by PSWs to members of the public
  • Establishing and maintaining codes of ethics applicable to PSWs in relation to the health services or supportive care services they provide to members of the public

The idea to regulate PSWs is not new and has been previously considered. For example, in 2006 the Health Professions Regulatory Council (HPRAC) recommended against the regulation of PSWs under the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 (RHPA). A concern that has been repeatedly raised relates to the increased cost to members of the profession as a result of membership fees that could be a significant burden on PSWs.

More recently, the Ontario PSW Association (OPSWA) has been a vocal advocate for the regulation of the profession, including before Ontario’s Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission. The benefits of regulating the profession include more consistency in education, training, and standards of practice for PSWs – and some would argue additional recognition for the important work PSWs do.

It is important to note that the Act only contains the legal elements necessary to establish the Authority. Further details about the regulatory scheme will have to be set out in regulations, by-laws, and policies following consultation with stakeholders.

What regulation will eventually look like for Ontario’s PSWs remains to be seen.

Carina Lentsch is an Ontario health lawyer and an advocate. She helps health professionals navigate regulatory College, privacy and human rights matters.

Carina writes about legal issues relevant to health professionals. Her articles are intended as an informational resource and are not legal advice. To learn more about her law practice, click here. You can subscribe to Carina’s newsletter and follow her on Facebook for updates @aclhealthlaw.