LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Muskrat Watershed Council tree planting, more PSWs needed

Letters to the Editor

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Muskrat Watershed Council needs your help!

We’re looking for volunteers aged 14 or older to help plant a healthy buffer of native trees and shrubs on several properties in the Muskrat Lake watershed. Planting will take place Nov. 1 and Nov. 5.

Watersheds Canada, the Muskrat Watershed Council, and Algonquin College’s Office of Applied Research and Innovation are partnering on this shoreline and stream bank rehabilitation program. This is the second year of a three-year Ontario Trillium Foundation grant that will support the program.

The Muskrat Lake Watershed experiences frequent blue-green algae blooms and an excess of nutrient inputs, all of which affect the local ecosystem and economy. This program will work towards addressing factors contributing to poor water quality and limited shoreline habitat within the Muskrat Lake Watershed.

Working with agricultural and residential property owners, three kilometres (25 hectares total) of degraded shoreline and stream bank will be improved using 45,000 native plants. The property owners will get a full-service restoration program, which includes the creation of a shoreline restoration plan for their property.

Algonquin College students and Watersheds Canada staff will implement the planting, with the help of volunteer planters. Training will be provided on the first day of planting.

This is a perfect volunteer opportunity for individuals as well as for community groups such as Civitan, Scouts and Guides. High School students wishing to earn volunteer hours would also be welcome. Volunteers must be 14 years old or older.

If you are interested in learning more about the project or connecting with project staff, please contact us at muskratwatershedcouncil@gmail.com or 613-646-2746.

Karen Coulas, chairwoman

Muskrat Watershed Council

Concerns about health care and home care

To be able to keep persons with physical and/or intellectual challenges in their own home; or to discharge persons from hospital to home in a timely manner; or to help the elderly remain in their own homes for as long as possible – are all worthy causes and worth working toward. BUT – such care must be built upon a solid foundation of … services performed by qualified, dedicated, caring PERSONAL SUPPORT WORKERS (PSW).

In Renfrew County there are simply not enough PSWs available to begin to meet the need, so many residents are forced to remain in hospital, or to be admitted to long-termcare, thereby stretching the limits of those institutions.

A PSW can be required to provide services such as daily hygiene (bathing, shaving, dressing); toileting; meal preparation and feeding; laundry; and other additional personal care as the needs arise. Depending on the level of disability, this can be hard work. In Renfrew County, PSWs often need to travel between 30 to 50 kilometres to clients. Those who stay with the job are sincerely dedicated, compassionate persons who realize the joy of serving people in their community.

Somehow we must attract more persons to serve as Personal Support Workers. Can we at least:

  • publicly recognize and emphasize that their role is fundamental to providing in-home services (without them, the system simply does not work);

  • stress the personal benefits/satisfaction of serving in their own community;

  • currently PSWs are probably one of the lowest paid positions in the health-care system, even though they provide such essential services. A revised pay scale would be helpful;

  • in Renfrew County, where to serve clients requires so much travel, to cover some auto expenses would be a benefit;

  • expand the college training courses, and make them financially accessible to students of any age

Bill and Beverley Mantell