ORONTO -- Ontario Liberals are promising to boost the minimum wage of personal support workers in the home-care sector by $4 an hour.

The workers would get a $1.50 per hour increase retroactive to April 1st, another $1.50 next April and a further $1 an hour on April 1st, 2016.

This will raise the minimum wage for the 34,000 publicly-paid workers to $16.50 per hour -- a 32 per cent increase over the current $12.50 per hour.

The workers provide care, assistance and support to 300,000 seniors and other people with complex care needs in their own homes and communities.

The Liberal government plan would also try to create more permanent and less casual employment in the ranks of personal support workers.

Unifor, which represents most personal support workers, called the proposed wage increases a welcome first step.

Union president Jerry Dias said a welcome next step would see the end of companies being required to bid for support contracts.

He said this puts downward pressure on wages, and "when it comes to caring for our parents and grandparents, we shouldn't be in a race to the bottom."

"Personal support workers care for our most vulnerable patients," said Health Minister Deb Matthews in a statement.

"As our population ages, we are taking action to strengthen this workforce so that it will meet Ontario's personal support needs now and in the future."