Foreign Caregivers important to Canada – ACNA

BY JEROLD LEBLANC

Staff writer

A Pigeon Lake caregiver award recipient turned part of his moment in the spotlight to highlight the need for a change when it comes to Canada’s foreign health care workers.

Harold Patterson was named the recipient of the Pigeon Lake Child and Family Society’s Florence Riske Caregiver Award 2011.

The award was presented Aug. 28 in the community, west of Wetaskiwin.

In addition to the Pigeon Lake award, Harold also received special recognition from Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and Wetaskiwin MP Blaine Calkins.

‘A definite honour’

“It’s definitely an honour, and I’d love to thank the Pigeon Lake (Child and Family) Society for their recognition. I don’t really deserve it.

“I’d also like to mention the benefit of Alberta’s home care, which helps us maintain (our care of Olive).

“It gets complicated, but it’s a great program, we have to appreciate it,” said Harold.

“For Mr. Harper, I would say, ‘yeah, we are also appreciative of the live-in caregiver system that they have to bring in people like our girls. It is very complicated, and needs streamlining, but again, the home care is a very essential tool to us,” he told the crowd.

“The girls themselves are the ones who do all the work, and deserve most of the recognition.”

The Pattersons present caregivers are a couple of Filipino women – Josephine Balofinos and Maricel Bargo.

Patterson has been a caregiver to his wife Olive ever since 1971 when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

“Olive was able to enjoy normal activity and good health until 1984,” read the society’s chairman Gilaine Porter.

Olive’s MS has progressed to the stage that is only able to move her head.

A decade later, and with the help of children Julie and Trevor, the Pattersons moved from Calgary to the Village of Grandview at Pigeon Lake.

In 1995, Harold took an early retirement, and at the same time, he was told by Ann Ford, about the foreign caregiver program.

It was from this program that the Pattersons were able to introduce caregivers in their home to provide aid to Olive.

“They are Olive’s caregivers, and Harold told me that they are not only incredible support to Olive, and him, but they are considered family,” said Porter referring to Balofinos and Bargo.

“Harold even added that Josephine is able to make Irish potato bread as good, or even better, than most Irish lasses,” said Porter, who has tasted Josephine’s bread.

“It’s absolutely true, it’s delicious,” Porter told the group.

On a more serious note, Porter spoke to the crowd about the importance of foreign caregivers workers.

“The one thing that Harold has found to be extremely difficult is to cut through the bureaucracy of getting a foreign caregiver.

“We need to assist the federal government in streamlining their process to make access to good foreign health-care workers for families who are dealing with health challenges,” Porter told the group.

Drayton Valley-Calmar MLA Diana McQueen agreed with Porter’s assessment of the situation regarding foreign caregivers.

“We know there are struggles, and we have struggles in our office, bringing forth caregivers and workers, and it’s a struggle; and it shouldn’t be so difficult,” said McQueen.

“With the work of folks like yourselves, and working now as a provincial government with the federal government, we are trying to work to alleviate that because there’s no reason it should be so hard.

“And to our Filipino families, we’re very blessed for you to leave your homes and come to Alberta. “We know that the care portion of the health care, could do so extremely well, and to have the big family come and be around, is very, very important to all the families.

“I just want congratulate you Harold, on this award, but the award is about the whole family, and all the great work all of you have done,” said McQueen.

MLA admires special relationship

The veteran MLA took special notice of the Pattersons’ relationship with themselves, their children and other family members.

“I wanted to say to you Harold that the vows you would have taken when you were married have obviously shone throughout the years.

“To be able to receive this award Harold says the love and commitments you made at the time you were married to each other that you carried that through, and the family, as well as, there to support your mother, and mother-in-law and grandmother in this way.

“What I’ve heard is that you are a very loving woman, and this family is very fortunate to have someone like you.

In his first official act as the Village of Grandview mayor, Don Davidson said it was nice that Harold was recognized for the caregiver award.

“Olive and Harold are important members of the summer village of Grandview community.

“In our busy lives in Alberta, we often forget that there are people who need special care, and it’s through the society such as the Pigeon Lake Child and Family Society that we’re able to provide assistance, and remember that we are all one family, but more often than not, there are caregivers behind this,” said Davidson.

– jleblanc@wetaskiwintimes.com

Article ID# 3288385

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