The NDP wants all reports released immediately from the seniors care home tours taken by the government's health region CEOs during the spring and summer.
The annual CEO tours were put in place in 2013 after Cam Broten and the NDP MLAs revealed a crisis of chronic low staffing levels and a lack of care standards in Saskatchewan seniors care facilities.
NDP Health critic Danielle Chartier said the reports from the most recent tours should be complete by now, and Saskatchewan people have a right to see the results.
“Seniors in care facilities should be treated with dignity and respect, but we know that far too many are not getting the care they deserve due to serious problems like chronic short staffing and the elimination of minimum care standards. We've even heard of numerous premature deaths of seniors like Margaret Warholm, Lois Rein and Elaine Chingos,” said Chartier. “We're hearing from families all over the province that fixing seniors care is a priority for them – and New Democrats share that priority. We’ll keep pushing the Sask. Party to take this seriously, and take urgent action, and that includes releasing their latest unedited internal reports.”
In 2013, the reports were released on the same day the government was required to provide them to the NDP under the freedom-of-information law. The 2013 reports from the CEO tours confirmed rampant understaffing in urban and rural care homes. They described neglect like a lack of bathing, seniors being put in bed for long stretches, and continent seniors having to soil themselves – all because there is a lack of staff on each shift to deliver proper care.
The government sat on the 2014 reports until May 27, 2015 after the Opposition got a commitment on the record in a legislative committee to have them released. Shockingly, large swaths of the report was literally cut-and-pasted from the 2013 reports, albeit with a few of the most disturbing lines deleted.
“I don’t have a lot of faith that these reports won’t be sanitized, and I don’t have a lot of faith that the Sask. Party will finally decide to do what’s right after reading them,” said Chartier. “But the Sask. Party continuing to drag their feet and refusing to take the seniors care crisis seriously is simply not on. We're going to keep fighting on this issue because seniors and their families deserve so much better.”
In 2011, the Sask. Party government quietly eliminated the regulations that required minimum staffing levels in long-term care. Under Broten, the NDP has tabled a private member’s bill – The Residents in Care Bill of Rights Act – that would institute minimum standards of care, including appropriate staff-to-resident ratios, in care homes. The Sask. Party has refused to support it.