The pandemic certainly shone a light on the staffing crisis and workload for health care workers

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“I work as a Cook at a complex care facility with an assisted living site attached.

If I work the morning shift, I’m in charge of breakfast and lunch for the residents, and on evenings, I take care of dinner.

I’m also responsible for ordering the products, helping out with the menu, and of course, preparing it all. 

I started at this facility in 2010. I was always kind of curious because my grandmother lived in a care home many moons ago. My grandma passed away in there, but my brother and I would always go there to spend time with her. We lived on a farm, so we would also take animals to visit the seniors.

The pandemic certainly shone a lot of light on the staffing crisis and workload for health care workers, especially in the long-term care sector. 

I got active in the union around 2011 and went to my first convention the following year. I get so excited about the resolutions and amendments because it’s something we do to create change.

I’m the sole breadwinner in my family. I live with my mom, my son, my niece and great-nephew. Working for a private sector employer, I live at the poverty level and it’s very hard to survive on one income. 

My paycheque barely covers our rent, but it’s hard to find affordable housing. So, things like convention when we have politicians attending and hearing our struggles and then we can vote on resolutions to improve HEU members’ lives, that’s important work.

And it’s not just promoting change at convention, it’s implementing those changes afterward.

I used to think my little voice wouldn’t matter, but my voice in the union – with similar voices – can really help to move things forward, especially when we mentor others. 

I just like when people take the time to help or guide or acknowledge each other. I’m here to help in any way I can, but I don’t want to do the job for them. I want members to learn so they can become activists and be empowered, and then pass it on.”

- Katie, Cook, part of the health care team