NDP wants action on seniors care while investigation pending

Broten supports ombudsman investigation; calls for awareness campaign

NDP Leader Cam Broten supports the provincial ombudsman’s ongoing investigation into problems at seniors care facilities throughout Saskatchewan, but says this government must not wait to take meaningful action to start fixing the seniors care crisis.

“Enough with the excuses and delays,” said Broten. “For almost two years, we’ve heard story after story about serious neglect caused by short-staffing and a lack of accountability. We've heard about a substandard quality of care for far too many seniors. We've even heard about premature deaths. I don't know how Mr. Wall can listen to these stories and keep refusing to act.”

Broten proposes immediate action that starts with creating regulated minimum care standards, including requiring the appropriate hands-on staff on each shift to properly care for residents. Minimum care standards were eliminated by this government in 2011, and would be reestablished through a private member’s bill the NDP introduced in the fall legislative session.

Broten is also calling on the government to initiate an awareness campaign about the ombudsman’s investigation, inviting residents, their families and staff in seniors care homes to contact the ombudsman if they have concerns or personal experiences to share.

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Government is still ignoring the seniors care crisis

Woman hospitalized from dehydration; daughter blames neglect caused by short-staffing

Mary Hohne’s mother, Irene, was rushed to the hospital Saturday because of severe dehydration. Hohne blames a lack of care at the Santa Maria care home, caused by short-staffing.

NDP Health critic Danielle Chartier says the government simply can’t keep ignoring the growing seniors care crisis.

Irene, 75, has lived at the Santa Maria care home in Regina for two years, and needs care because she is living with Alzheimer’s Disease. Hohne says her mother caught a virus in December. Although she recovered from the bug, Hohne says staff didn’t have time to give her mom fluids and help her drink to rehydrate her after she was well again, and she became dehydrated.

Hohne’s mother was hospitalized Saturday for the severe dehydration and an associated urinary tract infection.

“How much more does this government need to hear?” Chartier asked. “Families have come forward with heart-breaking examples of how neglect caused by short staffing has hurt their loved ones. Health care professionals describe a short-staffing crisis on the front lines while the government wastes money on more managers and Lean specialists.

“This government is failing to make changes to guarantee safe and dignified care in Saskatchewan. Even at Santa Maria – which is under the microscope right now – nothing seems to have changed.”

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Saskatchewan needs more affordable housing, not none

NDP strongly opposes government decision to eliminate Affordable Housing Program

Unable to keep up with the need for affordable housing, the government has decided to get rid of it all – a decision the NDP says is backward.

The government announced Thursday it will eliminate affordable housing, and now only offer social housing – a program designed for only the very lowest income and vulnerable people, such as those who are unable to work, homeless or victims of domestic violence.

The thousands of struggling low-income families who have previously qualified for affordable housing – an income-tested housing category that provides housing at below market rates – will have nowhere to turn.

“Basically, what the government is saying with this announcement is that if you’re low-income and struggling, tough luck. You’re on your own. You no longer have options through the government,” said David Forbes, NDP Social Services critic. “Social housing is important, as it serves the most vulnerable. But, there are a lot of families that are working, but struggling to make ends meet, and they need that affordable housing option.

“We know we need more affordable housing, not none.”

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NDP calls for a plan to repair schools

Opposition wants to know how many schools have structural and roofing problems

Saskatchewan has a problem with run down schools, and the NDP is calling on the government to come clean on how many schools have structural or roofing problems and create a timeline for repairing them.

According to the Saskatchewan School Boards Association, 75 per cent of all school roofs will fail in the next five years. Inspections in the Prairie Spirit School Division revealed at least five schools in that Saskatoon-area division are no longer safe for children because they’re crumbling. Some of those schools have been propped up with temporary supports.

“After a decade of prosperity, it’s absolutely mind-boggling that we don’t have the best education system in the nation,” said NDP Deputy Leader Trent Wotherspoon. “But, sadly, this government has neglected schools to the point that roofs are leaking and walls are being propped up. We can’t keep going like this. We need a full, transparent list of schools with structural and roofing problems, and a prioritized schedule for tackling those repairs.”

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When will electronic health records be ready, asks NDP

By March 2013, the government had already spent $502 million on an electronic health records conversion project, but Saskatchewan still hasn’t launched the system to replace the paper health records.

“It’s shocking to me that this isn’t done yet,” said NDP Health critic Danielle Chartier. “This government owes Saskatchewan taxpayers an explanation. How much more has it spent on top of the half-billion dollars we know about and why isn’t this complete yet? When will this conversion be completed?”

On Tuesday, the government is planning to “celebrate” that some “core components” of the electronic health record (EHR) system are finally ready.

“This government is obviously much better at patting itself on the back than it is at delivering,” said Chartier. “The eHealth records system should be done by now, and we all deserve an honest answer to explain why it isn’t.”

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