End of MPI strike would help Winnipegger with disability get life back on track

The Manitoba Public Insurance strike could be over soon, with a tentative agreement in place. As Alex Karpa reports, for one Winnipegger, who has a disability, the strike has impacted him greatly.

Life’s been on hold for Martin Guicheret.

The Winnipegger has been heavily impacted by the Manitoba Public Insurance strike and hopes to see it end soon.

The provincial Crown corporation reached a tentative agreement with workers Tuesday night that could end a strike that’s lasted nine weeks.

“It’s mindboggling. It actually keeps me awake at night,” said Guicheret.

Guicheret lost the lower part of his right leg due to an infection two years ago. Since, he’s been unable to drive, with MPI suspending his licence.

In September, he decided he wanted to go back and get his licence. He went through the Driver Assessment Management Program (DAMP) – via Health Sciences Centre and MPI – which helps people with physical disabilities or combined physical and cognitive impairments to get back on the road. After appointments with doctors, physiotherapists, and passing a road test, he was approved to renew his licence.

But the ongoing MPI strike has left him waiting.

“It’s been difficult,” he told CityNews.

“The Health Sciences Centre told me that I would get a letter through MPI stating that I could reapply for my licence. Here is it Nov. 1, and I am still waiting to hear from MPI.”

Guicheret lives alone and relies on his family to help him out. He says it’s frustrating to know how close he is to getting the freedom of driving back.

“I don’t have an issue to drive. I’ve got the vehicles to drive. I just need my licence back so I can get my life back,” he said.

MPI workers have been on strike since Aug. 28.

The Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union (MGEU) – which represents the workers – said Tuesday evening a tentative agreement was reached with MPI.

MGEU says the tentative deal includes wage increases of 13 per cent over four years plus an $1,800 signing bonus for full-time employees and other benefits. The union is recommending its members vote to approve the package on Wednesday.

Guicheret is hoping the members vote in favour of the new offer so the strike can end.

“The strike hopefully will end soon, and we can actually get our life back,” he said. “I know there are a lot of people who are relying on MPI to continue on with their life.”

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