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'I cried every single day': Winnipeg family fed up with state of home care services in Manitoba


A Winnipeg family receiving home care is fed up over a lack of communication and intermittent care – forcing them to find another option paid for out of pocket.

During December and January, Pat Sawatzky said care for her partner was so sporadic it pushed her to tears every day. She said she had no choice but to find something more reliable.

"These are wonderful people. People need to know they are not being treated right and we are not being treated right," said Sawatzky said, who cares for her long-time partner who has Alzheimer's disease.

She needs help every morning and night as well as respite several times week. But during December and January several regular home care staff left and were not replaced, accord to Sawatzky.

Sawatzky said after that there was little communication.

"It was horrible. I cried every single day, more than once," she said.

According to the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, vacancy rates in home care have increased during the pandemic. As of January, the vacancy rate was 16.6 per cent, up from 10.5 per cent in March of 2020.

"There are not a lot of full-time jobs within home care, so people aren't staying," said Debbie Boissonneault, the president of CUPE 204, which represents home care workers.

Boissonneault said it's hard for people to work a part-time job offering four days out of every 14. Home care staff are asked to have an available work period longer than eight hours as well. She said that just doesn't cut it for people working two jobs.

"How do you stay in a position where you can't leave one job at a regular time, a regular eight-hour day to go to another job, and to be able to feed your family," she said.

Sawatzky recently hired private home care out of pocket for two weeks so she could get a break. During that time she set up a family-managed program in which she hires private staff and the health region pays for the hours.

She also wrote a letter to the premier, health minister and her MLA letting them know about her struggle to care for her partner.

"We're taxpayers and we deserve better. We deserve way better," she said, adding she received a generic response to her letter.

CUPE 204 has asked the WRHA to add more full-time positions with better benefits. A WRHA spokesperson told CTV News efforts are focused on recruitment, training and orientation for all home care positions, as well as increasing equivalent full-time positions and making them more attractive to new hires. Top Stories

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