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'We feel like we are collateral damage': Residents living with disability fear homecare won't come due to protests

Residents living with disabilities say they feel like "collateral damage" from the ongoing truck convoy protest taking place on the streets of downtown Ottawa.

Peter McGrath lives in Lowertown in a building where many residents require home healthcare workers for daily activities like eating, dressing, and getting around.

"We require attendant care for activities of daily living. Getting up, getting bathed, eating, assistance with other activities you do during the day, getting into bed. If nobody comes in, you can’t do any of that," McGrath says.

But he says that care has been unreliable because workers can’t get to them because of the protests.

McGrath says last Saturday, workers were late, and many were unable to arrive to work because they couldn’t get through traffic or couldn’t rely on public transportation.

"On Sunday, zero people came into work. Eventually they did scramble to get a couple people to come in, but we were very short. It was very dangerous, very scary for the tenants; we had no idea what staff would possibly come in, if they would come in, and if they would get any service that day."

VHA Health & Home Support is the non-profit organization that provides the care. They say that nearly half the staff who work at McGrath’s residence live in Gatineau, and couldn’t drive downtown, many forced to walk, meaning care was delayed.

Valerie Bishop de Young is with VHA Ottawa.

"They were en route, they were walking over the bridge, and they were walking for over an hour to get to work."

Bishop de Young adds, "Within the hour they started to show up. Services that should have started at 7 a.m. didn’t start for an hour later and the whole day got back logged accordingly."

Since then, staff has been extremely short staffed, because workers can’t get through, or don’t feel safe coming into work.

"Staff expressed feeling fear and intimidated because of the protesters. They are simply not sure they want to go through that again today, tomorrow and certainly not this coming weekend," Bishop de Young says.

McGrath says he is getting care, but worried about other tenants. He is concerned about what is going to happen this weekend if protests ramp up.

"We feel like we are collateral damage, like we don’t matter, Mayor (Jim) Watson, (Premier) Doug Ford, and (Prime Minister) Trudeau need to address this issue rapidly, so we don’t endanger the lives of people here," McGrath says.

VHA says they are worried too and are working on contingency plans.

"That includes abbreviating services to each client. Some people might require extra time in the morning, we are going cut that down to the basics. It also includes perhaps ways we can transport workers. If we have to rent a vehicle to transport people, we might have to do that."


An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to VHA Health & Home Support as VHA Home Healthcare. VHA Health & Home Support is not affiliate with VHA Home Healthcare. Top Stories


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