SEIU Local 1 Canada

SEIU Local 1 Canada

November 05, 2009 16:16 ET

SEIU Local 1 Canada: Home Care Workers Declared "High Priority" by Minister

Deb Matthews and SEIU join forces in H1N1 battle

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 5, 2009) - Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews today acted to protect residents who receive health care in their homes from the H1N1 virus, in a move applauded by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

The Minister declared the home care sector an integral part of the battle against the pandemic and insisted home care workers were a "high-priority group".

Sharleen Stewart, President of SEIU Local 1 Canada, said: "The statement from the minister will help protect seniors and many of the most vulnerable in our community."

In a directive sent to Community Care Access Centres today, the Minister urged local health authorities to impress upon home care agencies the importance of immunizing home care workers.

Ms. Stewart said: "This is an important and timely message that will help support health workers at the front line of the battle against this pandemic."

The directive followed concerns that home care agencies in the province had not made adequate preparations for the pandemic and that home care workers were being denied vaccinations.

The President of SEIU Local 1 said: "We are facing a serious public health threat. We need to pull together."

SEIU also undertook to work with health authorities and agencies to strengthen the response to H1N1, while the Minister pledged to look into cases where a public health unit is not treating home care workers as a priority.

France Gelinas, the health critic for the Ontario New Democratic Party, had earlier admonished Community Care Access Centres for failing to provide leadership to home care agencies.

Minister Matthews said she would continue to underline the vital role played by Personal Support Workers across the health system, including when talking to health authorities and nursing homes that might be unclear about priorities.

"If that is in fact not clear to the public health units, to the long-term-care homes and so on, we will absolutely clarify that," said Minister Matthews.

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