There has been much recent discussion internationally about the emergence in modern society of a new class of workers – the precariat – with a common consciousness based on features such as low wages, insecurity, short-term jobs, minority status and restricted rights. This paper critically explores the extent to which the growing, large-scale group of personal support workers (PSWs) can be viewed as part of a new precariat in terms of their position in the healthcare labour market. Drawing on currently available empirical data, this issue is examined particularly with reference to PSWs in Canada – drawing out some of the implications for government health policy in this sphere.
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