By Zaid Noorsumar
Part 7 of our Special Investigation into OPSWA
I just find it interesting that you see all these OPSWA posts that claim they are there for the PSW, and support all PSW’s and all this. But if you question anything, ‘No, you’re blocked, that’s it.’Stephanie Lynn, home care PSW and former OPSWA insider
She blocked me because she didn’t like what I had to say. So you say you’re my voice but I’m not allowed to speak my mind and say exactly how I feel about things because then I’m just going to get blocked and deleted. So I mean, somebody that won’t listen to their membership and listen to genuine concerns – how can they fully represent us?Tammy-Lynn Ladouceur, home care PSW
A recurring theme in the course of my investigation into the Ontario Personal Support Workers Association (OPSWA) was the organization’s propensity towards blocking people from its social media channels for asking tough questions. I myself have been blocked on Twitter by OPSWA and its president, Miranda Ferrier, for my reporting.
Here is a list of just a few instances when OPSWA has blocked people:
Dyana Forshner-Juby, a home care personal support worker, says she was blocked years ago when she and her home care colleagues went on strike in 2013 and were accused of “patient abandonment.” She wasn’t familiar with OPSWA back then and had joined their social media to learn more.
“The red flags went up immediately,” she said. “How could this organization that’s supposed to be representing PSWs counter a strike which was the result of all that we were fighting for? I was more tactful back then when I questioned their stance [but I was banned immediately anyway].”
Stefanie Lynn, a personal support worker who worked closely with Miranda Ferrier from 2014-16 (she had access to OPSWA’s social media accounts), confirms there is little room for asking critical questions.
“I just find it interesting that you see all these OPSWA posts that claim they are there for the PSW, and support all PSW’s and all this. But if you question anything, ‘No, you’re blocked, that’s it,’” Lynn says.
“She won’t have anything to do with any one of us that were once a part of OPSWA and saw that things weren’t making sense. So we’re concerned, we’re asking questions, and no, she doesn’t like that.”
Sandra Caleta, whose mother died in a long-term care home earlier in the pandemic, manages the popular Facebook group, Advocates for Long-Term Care Reform in Ontario. She has patiently built an online community for family members, residents, workers and members of the public. Caleta says Ferrier was part of the group as well, but did not have an appetite for basic questions about OPSWA.
“I was banned back in 2017 from all their social media accounts after she kept making posts in my Facebook group promoting OPSWA,” she says. “I told her self-promotion was against our group rules, however I’d consider allowing her posts if she gave me more info about her organization. In specific, I asked whether they were a not-for-profit, what kind of work they do for PSW’s, and whether their board positions were elected.”
Caleta says she was berated for being a “PSW-hater” before Ferrier left the group and influenced her followers to do the same.
“I’m assuming at that point she made all her minions leave as well since we had around 40 members leave all at once,” she says. “This was unprecedented for our group (our group was much smaller back then so it was noticeable). Anyway, it was a very mature reply to what were some simple questions.”
This article is Part 7 of our Special Investigation into OPSWA