Do you have an aid?

I have been following the news recently on this foreign workers program.  Every time some innocence looking scam arises it winds up having deeper implications than initially thought.  And it does seem to be happening with greater frequency for our current ruling government.  It is just unfortunate that we should be governing from a position of reaction so much in this day and age.

I do know accurate numbers on foreign workers in Alberta electronically are disappearing faster than second sober thought in the Senate!  A lot of pages currently being updated so thank god for a cache.  And the Alberta Federation of Labour recently questioned publicly why over 4,000 Alberta businesses had been granted licenses; many of these businesses in the service industry.  So that is one number to work from.

The term “service industry” is pretty broad and I really didn’t feel like doing a lot of research on this subject, after all there is a lot out there on it if you really want details, but needless to say those members of the community living with a disability make up a good part of that industry.  Working in the industry I am very aware of the high level of ESL workers who fill care giving positions.  Most of the ones I have dealt with mean well and are doing their best to assist their client.

However many of them lack the basic knowledge to do something as simple as tightening the arm pad on a wheelchair.  Now as a wheelchair user I try to do as much as I can to keep up my regular maintenance to avoid being in a breakdown situation.  It’s not like I can one leg it home.  So I really believe that a caregiver doing something like the arm pad is a hell of a lot cheaper than sending a mobile tech out at $50 a shot.

The general lack of knowledge many of these workers regarding adaptive equipment (and by adaptive equipment I am referring to things like power wheelchairs, personal lift systems and other adaptive aids that contribute to an improved quality of life for many people with physical limitations) is really limited by their employer.  I have seen more than one repair to a chair because someone with good intentions was sure they could get that 28” wide wheelchair through that 26” doorframe.  They mean well but the equipment pays the price and in the long run the taxpayer is on the hook for most repairs.

I know many care aids in Calgary who are foreign born and very good aids.  I have no idea if any of them are part of the foreign workers program.  I do think it would be a good number to know as a way of knowing what one may have to stockpile for staffing needs in the event of some drastic change that eliminated many of the worker we are use to.

I do know many of the aids receive very little training from their employers on the types of equipment many of their clients use.  What employers don’t seem to grasp is that if they don’t train their workers properly it will wind up costing us all more in the end.  After all someone has to be on the hook for the repair costs and it tends to be the taxpayer.

What really scares me is how little many of these companies will be able to get for training under the new federal guidelines.  I mean if they are not putting anything into it now how will it be when the new training arrangement is based on one-third feds, one-third province AND one-third industry.  Like this industry is going to put money back into training.  Not during this period of fiscal restraint.  And you know who pays the real price again, the community members with a disability who need the help the most.

So if you are in that boat and you don’t like it, don’t get mad at your aid; call your service provider and demand they provide appropriate training.  After all it is your wellbeing that is at stake.  Right now I don’t have any aids except for my wheelchair but I would like to know the appropriate services are in place before I do need them.

Just one man’s opinion


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