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Tired of being unappreciated and under-compensated for the work they perform, Queens County home support workers in Nova Scotia walked off the job last Friday. The 39 employees, members of CUPE Local 3885, have been in a legal strike position since last December.

The main issue is wages, said CUPE representative Kathy MacLeod. We have members making as little as $7.14 per hour, while home care workers in other parts of the province earn as much as $12.70.

MacLeod said the striking workers are fed up with the poor pay and lack of benefits, especially when compared to personal care workers in nursing homes, who perform similar work.

MacLeod pointed out that workers must be trained in basic nursing skills in order to assist with clients personal needs. They may be asked to help with baths or physiotherapy, carry clients to the toilet, or care for catheters or colostomy bags, said MacLeod. These are not the duties of a Molly Maid.

For the person who is bedridden, or the family of a patient who requires round-the-clock care, every task the home support worker does is vitally important. And light housekeeping is just as essential to a patients recovery, or to palliative or respite care, as any other duty performed by these workers.