Elmwood Group Homes: Restore & Rebuild Public Services Rally Speech

Kate McDaid, the SEIU-West Picket Captain for the job action currently taking place at Elmwood Group Homes, volunteered to speak at a rally hosted by SGEU about the importance of restoring and rebuilding our public services. Kate took the opportunity to shine a light on our unions’ shared struggles of working in Community Based Organizations. Have a look at her awesome speech below!

Thank you all for being here. I’m Kate McDaid, and I’ve been a Support Worker at Elmwood Group Homes for 5 years and I am a proud SEIU-West member. I’m also the picket-captain for our current job action.

I want to begin by asking you this – how would you feel if you didn’t have a raise after one year? How about two years? How about three? Well how about four years without a pay raise?

That’s what myself and my fellow Support Workers at Elmwood Group Homes have been faced with, and that’s why we’re saying enough is enough!

We know Community Based Organizations, like Elmwood Group Homes, have faced major attacks from this government – and sadly, our Employer is following their lead.

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Our picket captain, Kate, speaking to the crowd and media!

Fortunately, our pushback from the last budget stopped the 10% cut to CBOs, but they’re still widely underfunded.

I got into support work for adults with intellectual disabilities because my own brother has autism – Asperger’s, specifically. He is fortunate that he won’t have to live in a group home and can be independent. But I always thought about the “what ifs.”

What if he couldn’t live independently – would he find a place in a group home?

Would the staff understand him, understand when he needs space? What if they didn’t let him pursue the things he enjoyed? What if they don’t listen and engage when he starts talking about WWII tanks for an hour?

But I’m lucky, I will never have to worry about that for my brother. But each resident matters, and is someone’s family. And they all deserve the level of care that we would expect for our own family.

But the lack of pay raise for the last four years is a direct cause of high staff turnover. Staff are looking for work elsewhere, and low wages are forcing our already stretched staff to take up second jobs to make ends meet.

So what does it tell you when our government chooses to turn their backs on our most vulnerable communities and those who staff these important sectors?

It’s quite clear this government has chosen a side, and it’s not the side of people with disabilities, workers, or the people at this rally. It’s the big corporations who we all know can afford to pay their fair share.

At Elmwood Group Homes, we know we’re not unique in our struggles. That’s why we hope to lead the charge and ensure our job action leads to fairness not only for our residents, our families, and ourselves, but for every single worker who works tirelessly in this vital community sector!

Fair share – that’s all we’re asking for. That’s what all of us are asking for.

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