The crisis in seniors care, understaffing and overcrowding in hospitals, crowded and crumbling schools and an economy that is not diverse enough were the focus of the legislature this fall.
“Health care and education are getting worse under this government, and that has to stop,” said NDP Leader Cam Broten.
“Especially in today’s strong economy, I don’t accept the government’s excuses, and Saskatchewan people tell me they don’t either. They don’t need excuses – they need better health care and decent, dignified seniors care. They need schools with reasonable classroom sizes for their kids, and enough teachers and educational assistants. They need a long-term plan to replace this government’s record of moving from crisis to crisis.”
The fall sitting of the Legislative Assembly ends Thursday.
Throughout the session, Broten further exposed unacceptable conditions in seniors care homes caused by understaffing. Families continue to describe seniors left to soil themselves instead of being taken to the bathroom, seniors not being given the time or help to eat and residents getting less than one bath per week, among other concerns.
Broten pushed for minimum staffing ratios for each level of care, minimum standards for the number of baths and meals residents should be offered, as well as a residents bill of rights for seniors in care, similar to other provinces. Instead, the government quietly removed a requirement for sufficient staffing and minimum hours of care for seniors care homes.
The government has temporarily shut down, reduced services or closed emergency rooms in nearly two dozen hospitals. Regina’s Pasqua hospital could be next, with no long-term plan in place to keep the emergency room open 24 hours-a-day beyond Dec. 15.
Throughout the session, Broten held the government to account on systemic short-staffing that is reducing services and hurting the quality of care and safety of patients.
“I think of Sylvia Phillips’ family. After using all their vacation days caring for their mother, her family paid $1,000 per week for a private care provider to go into the hospital and provide Sylvia with basic care. Her basic needs weren’t being met because there weren’t enough staff to care for her.
“I also think of Suzanne Stewart. She’s a retired nurse who had to clean her own filthy, dirty hospital room before her surgery. There simply aren’t enough staff to keep the hospitals clean anymore.”
Saskatchewan’s economy is not diverse enough because it’s too reliant on non-renewable resources and the economic activity those resources generate.
“I remain optimistic about the future of all our province's natural resources,” said Broten. “But when we hear about soft potash prices affecting the province’s bottom line, and hundreds of layoffs in the potash industry, those things are further evidence that it's not in Saskatchewan’s best interests to put all our eggs in the non-renewable resource basket. I want more eggs, and more baskets.”
Broten said the government should recognize that it’s passing up an incredible opportunity to use today’s economy to build long-term stability and prosperity by fostering growth in new and diverse industries like technology, research and development and film and television.
Broten said he was very proud of the good work and dedication of the NDP MLAs throughout the fall session – but he said they have no plans to slow down.
“Saskatchewan families have serious concerns about the health care they count on, and the care of their parents, grandmas and grandpas. They say that massive, crowded classes are not what they want for their kids. They want a long-term plan to build a sustainable economy and plan ahead for tomorrow’s needs in health care and education.
“But, the government has been largely dismissive of those concerns, and that’s simply not good enough.”
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For more information, contact:
Erin Morrison, NDP caucus