This article explores the role of place in explaining variation in caregiver compensation. Using the labour category of Personal Support Worker (PSW) in Ontario, Canada, it contrasts wage rates across three health care settings: Hospitals, long-term care facilities and private homes. An evaluation of current literature from disciplines spanning geography, gender studies, political science and sociology is combined with a critical analysis of policy documents and wage data to reveal that, despite holding similar qualifications and performing comparable job duties, hospital-based workers receive higher wages than home-based workers. I theorize that this wage disparity is partially attributable to the historical privileging of hospital settings in Canada, based on a medical-social continuum of health care valuation. Given that the hospital is constructed as a highly medical place, whereas the home is considered to be a social place, caregiving work enjoys greater financing protection in the former. I argue that these constructions stem from deeply gendered historical roots which view the marketplace as a male-dominated setting for productive waged labour, and the home as a female-dominated setting for unpaid social pursuits. Thus, when personal support services shift from public institutions into private homes, these activities become invisible to the state, and their provision beyond its purview. I conclude that the medical versus social nature of the duties performed by PSWs has become secondary to the medical versus social nature of the setting in which these activities take place. This has translated into lower wages for home-based PSWs, effectively resulting in wage discrimination.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Caregiving, Home care, Labour remuneration, Long-term care, Ontario, Canada, Public - Private
Persistent URL
Journal Gender, Place and Culture
Lilly, M. (2008). Medical versus social work-places: Constructing and compensating the personal support worker across health care settings in Ontario, Canada. Gender, Place and Culture, 15(3), 285–299. doi:10.1080/09663690801996288