Call bells in seniors care homes out-of-date, ineffective

A new report from Saskatchewan’s Provincial Auditor addresses concerns about seniors in care homes suffering falls – and raises the alarm about life-saving call-bell systems that don’t work.

According to an audit released Tuesday, “discussions with management indicated the call bell systems in a number of long-term care facilities were outdated presenting limitations in their effectiveness.” There are plans to repair some “as finances allow.”

The audit looked only at the Prairie North Health Region, but NDP Health critic Danielle Chartier said it echoes a big red flag raised by recently released reports from CEO tours of seniors care homes.

“Call bells are a lifeline,” said Chartier. “Sometimes it’s for help to the bathroom and sometimes it’s a very serious medical emergency. When a senior pushes their call button, they deserve to know that help is on the way, fast. But what we saw come up again and again in the CEO tour reports is not only that call bells weren’t able to be answered in a timely fashion – in far too many cases, they actually weren’t working at all. This is a major infrastructure issue that should be a top priority.”

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Sask. Party’s highway repair priorities don’t add up

Sask. Party ignores safety priority list when deciding which roads get work, which get ignored

When it comes to which highways get repaired, the Sask. Party is ignoring the safety priorities list and picking and choosing which highways to fix.

According to a report released by the province’s independent Provincial Auditor on Tuesday, higher priorities within the Safety Improvement Program (SIP) are being passed over in favour of doing projects that pose less of a safety concern – and the Sask. Party can’t explain why.

Of the 15 highways projects the Sask. Party plans to do in 2015-16, five were not even on the safety priority list, and six ranked lower than 50 out of 100 on the scale of safety concerns. Meanwhile, many projects with safety concern rankings over 50 are going ignored. 

“The Ministry was unable to provide us with its supporting analysis or rationale for selecting some of these projects included in the plan, over those with higher priority scores,” reported the auditor.

NDP Highways critic Buckley Belanger said the Sask. Party owes people an explanation.

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Despite huge spending, Lean program results not tracked

The Sask. Party government has spent a massive amount of money and staff time on the controversial John Black Lean program, but according to a new audit, it isn’t even tracking the results.

The NDP says it looks like the Sask. Party is blindly committed to the controversial Lean program.

“The Sask. Party drank the John Black Lean Kool-Aid, and now there isn’t a Lean program cheque it won’t sign – despite the fact that, apparently, they don’t know what they’re getting for the money,” said Warren McCall, the NDP critic for the Lean initiative.

The report, released Monday by Saskatchewan’s independent Provincial Auditor, concludes that the Sask. Party is now using Lean in 19 ministries and agencies, four post-secondary schools and 28 school divisions.

However, “they did not identify or gather sufficient information to enable them to assess the overall success of the use of Lean.”

The auditor points to hundreds of Lean events, continued use of Lean consultants and 5,000 days of staff time spent on Lean, but no overall results recorded.

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Jobs numbers show part-time jobs instead of full-time careers

Instead of creating good, mortgage-paying jobs, Saskatchewan’s jobs market has been lagging and leaning towards part-time employment.

According to new data from Statistics Canada, released Friday, for 18,700 more people in the jobs market, only 2,600 full-time jobs have been created. 4,700 part-time jobs have been added.

That means 65 per cent of all new jobs are part-time, and the unemployment rate has climbed to 5 per cent compared to 3.2 per cent one year ago. On a seasonally-adjusted basis, the unemployment rate is 5.5 per cent. Compared to one year ago, 11,400 more people are unemployed and actively looking for work.

“During the resource boom, the Sask. Party really sat back and rode the wave rather than working to diversify the economy and foster growth in a wide range of sectors,” said NDP deputy leader Trent Wotherspoon.

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Cancer care renovation money wasted

Before pipes broke, doctors and other staff time diverted to Lean reno that hasn’t happened

Before a collapsed pipe forced cancer patients out of the Saskatoon Cancer Centre this week, the Sask. Party wasted millions of Saskatchewan Cancer Agency dollars reassigning staff to plan a John Black Lean renovation of the facility that hasn’t happened.

Documents received via access to information laws show thousands of staff days wasted as Saskatchewan Cancer Agency staff attended more than 40 Lean events, most of them five-days long and involving dozens of Cancer Agency employees. For roughly 2,300 staff days, radiation therapists, early detection physicians, oncologists and other health professionals attended John Black Lean workshops instead of treating patients – much of which was spent in “3P” workshops, planning a Lean-inspired renovation of the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency that never happened.

Meanwhile, the current Saskatchewan Cancer Agency building suffered. A collapsed pipe in recent days saw patients rescheduled, and the radiation therapy area needing to be cleaned. About 175 patients’ appointments did not happen Tuesday.

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