MGEU President Helps Kick Off Home Care Week at 40th Anniversary Event
Sep 04, 2014
On Monday, September 8 at the Legislative Building, Health Minister Erin Selby, Healthy Living and Seniors Minister, Sharon Blady, and MGEU President, Michelle Gawronsky, spoke at a special event to proclaim September 8 to 12, 2014, Manitoba Home Care Week, in recognition of Canada’s oldest, most comprehensive, province-wide universal home care program.
“As a past health care aide and home care attendant, and as President of the union who represents the Manitobans who provide home care services, it feels really special to be part of this 40th anniversary,” said Gawronsky. “I know what it’s like to be greeted by someone whose been waiting for help with daily tasks like taking a bath, or getting dressed to face the day, or sometimes just to chat as you give them their medication. People are just so relieved to be treated with dignity and respect in their own homes.”
When her husband had a stroke at 52, Gawronsky said it was Manitoba’s home care program that allowed her to pursue her dream of getting more involved in the union. “My husband, Roman, was adamant that I still go to Ottawa to attend Labour College, and the only reason I felt comfortable with being away for awhile was because I knew he would receive such excellent care from the workers who came to our home every day.”
Gawronsky went on to point out that from those case coordinators who assess a client’s needs when they’re being released from hospital, to those resource coordinators who schedule literally hundreds of intimate and varied tasks per day, the union is always striving to keep the “care” in home care.
“When it comes to those providing the hands-on care, we’ve made strides in turning what was essentially a casual job with no benefits or security into an organized and sustainable workforce of nearly 5,000 members. The key now is to keep building so that all Manitobans can age with the dignity and respect they deserve.”
In the mid-1990s, thousands of home care members went on strike over threats to privatize the program and successfully forced the Filmon government to back away from their plans to dismantle the comprehensive public home care service.
“Manitobans go into this field because they truly enjoy the personal level of care they’re able to provide to their clients,” Gawronsky said. “Our challenge now is to keep building this workforce to meet the needs we know are coming.”
As the boomer generation moves into vulnerable old age in the next couple of decades, Gawronsky pointed out that the need for a trained and reliable home care workforce is only going to grow.
“Helping elderly and disabled Manitobans stay in their own homes for as long as possible is a win-win for all of us,” Gawronsky said. “Not only does home care allow those who need help to maintain their independence, it’s also more cost-effective than then admitting them to hospitals or care homes.”
Stay tuned for further initiatives to recognize MGEU home care members during this 40th year of caring and service, including a commemorative pin.