With a growing chorus of voices emerging to challenge Premier Scott Moe’s claim that all is well in Saskatchewan’s Long-Term Care system, the Saskatchewan NDP is calling for the province to request an independent investigation by the Provincial Ombudsman, who has investigated Long-term Care previously, to get a complete picture of the situation.
“The Premier and Sask. Party want to ignore the deplorable realities of long-term care that are denying too many seniors the care they deserve,” said NDP Health Critic Vicki Mowat. “But long-term care workers, families and seniors are all raising the alarm. We need an independent investigation of the long-standing issues plaguing our Long-Term Care system, and we’re calling on the government to ask the Ombudsman to initiate that investigation.”
Mowat pointed to a review of the CEO Tour Report released by SEIU-West this week, in which interviews with frontline health workers and others exposed significant understaffing in facilities beyond what was captured in the CEO Tour report, as evidence that an independent investigation is needed.
In a letter to the Premier shared with the Opposition, SEIU-West President Barb Cape said workers on the frontlines “are deeply troubled and outraged by your government's recent efforts to reassure Saskatchewan people that there are no systemic staffing or care-quality issues in the province's LTC sector.” Cape informed the Premier, “things have deteriorated greatly since your government repealed the care hours standards in the Housing and Special-care Homes Regulations in 2011.”
Cape’s letter highlighted many issues not addressed in the CEO Tour Report, including:
- Chronic staffing shortages at the Herbert & District Integrated Care home leaving a single CCA to manage the care needs of 31 LTC residents if there is an emergency on the acute care side of the facility.
- Understaffing issues at the brand-new Meadows Long-term Care facility, resulting in instances where there were no staff present overnight in resident buildings.
- Staffing challenges risking access to rural health care, with shortages impacting the ability to provide safe and timely care in Maple Creek, Ponteix, Vanguard and Hodgeville.
- Dozens of vacant positions at Sherbrooke Community Centre and Parkridge Centre in Saskatoon, safety risks which were brought to the attention of the Minister of Health in December but have not yet had a response.
“The experiences of families coming forward with stories of deplorable staffing levels and quality of care are echoed by what we are now hearing from workers on the frontlines,” said NDP Seniors’ Critic Danielle Chartier. “If the Premier has nothing to hide, then for the good of our seniors and to ensure they get the dignified care they deserve, he would call on the Provincial Ombudsman to conduct a complete review of staffing levels and quality of care.”
The NDP called yesterday for a major investment in home care and for action to address ongoing issues in residential long-term care, measures that will create better care for seniors, reduce emergency room visits and create jobs.