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 Gilleen Witkowski
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May 23, 2013, Richmond Hill, ON – This morning Ontario’s Health Minister Deb Matthews joined Juliette Chestney, a Personal Support Worker (PSW) from Milton, to “Walk-A-Day” in her shoes to better understand the important role that PSWs play in Ontario’s healthcare system and learn about the challenges faced everyday by frontline healthcare staff.

The event was organized by SEIU Healthcare, Canada’s largest healthcare union, in conjunction with Red Cross Care Partners and the Mississauga Halton Community Care Access Centre. Juliette Chestney is a member of SEIU Healthcare and an RCCP employee who works in the Mississauga Halton CCAC.

The day began with Minister Matthews joining Ms. Chestney at her home for breakfast and a talk about the coming day. Both then proceeded to visit two of Ms. Chestney’s clients, where the Minister was able to observe the type of care that PSWs provide every day. This care included helping a person get out of bed, bathe and dress, brush and floss their teeth, and perform a range of motion exercises. In the process, the Minister was able to witness the strong and trusting bond that people in need of care form with their PSW.

"We are very pleased that the Minister was able to spend some time with one of our PSWs and have an opportunity to see first-hand the critical role that PSWs play in the lives of people needing assistance," said Sharleen Stewart, President, SEIU Healthcare.

Caroline Brereton, CEO of the Mississauga Halton Community Care Access Centre (CCAC), recognizes the valuable partnerships the CCAC has with service provider organizations in achieving successful and sustainable health care for patients in the Mississauga Halton region.

"Our ability to deliver on the tremendous demand for services from patients with significant care needs is made possible through collaboration with our outstanding service provider organizations," said Ms. Brereton. "We collaborate closely with these organizations as we strive to deliver consistent, effective, high-quality care to keep our patients safely at home for as long as possible. PSWs are an important part of the circle of care in the community."

Ms. Stewart pointed out that the health minister had the opportunity not only to learn about the day-to-day challenges faced by PSWs and the people they care for, such as not having enough time to spend with each client, but the broader systemic issues such as how to attract and retain quality healthcare workers to ensure the long-term sustainability of Ontario’s heathcare system.

"The health minister established a great rapport with Ms. Chestney, our Personal Support Worker, and gained excellent hands-on insight on the value of homecare. We would like to thank Minister Matthews for her commitment to supporting the delivery of quality care to the people of Ontario, and for working with us to make today’s event a huge success."