With conditions in long-term care homes under scrutiny across Canada, NDP Health Critic Vicki Mowat and Seniors’ Critic Danielle Chartier called today for the release of the CEO Tour report, and for the reestablishment of minimum care standards and staffing ratios, which the Sask. Party scrapped in 2011.
“The situation in Ontario and Quebec shone a light on deplorable conditions in seniors’ care homes. We know that Saskatchewan has followed Ontario’s playbook of scrapping legislated care standards and expanding for-profit care, and has seen many of the same problems Ontario has,” said Chartier. “While we are thankful this pandemic has not yet entered our long-term care homes, that does not mean similar conditions don’t exist or that our system could manage if it does. Now is the time to dedicate the resources needed to ensure seniors get the care they need — this means re-establishing minimum care standards and ensuring funding is adequate to meet those standards.”
Conditions in Saskatchewan’s Long-term Care homes have been flagged by families, advocates, the Provincial Auditor and the Provincial Ombudsman in multiple reports. Twice in recent years the Sask. Party government has defeated an NDP private member’s bill calling for the re-establishment of legislated minimum care standards.
The government’s own pandemic guidelines acknowledge staffing levels are not sufficient to provide adequate care, suggesting, “where it is determined resident needs are unable to be met by the care team, visitation will be restricted to two designated healthy individuals with one healthy family/support person present at a time.”
“Not every senior has a family member who can go and supplement short-staffed care,” said Chartier. “It’s the government’s job to ensure there’s enough staff to meet resident needs, and if that’s not possible, they need to get more staff on the frontlines and reverse their decision to scrap minimum care standards.”
The NDP is also calling for the release of this year’s CEO Tour report, which Minister Reiter mentioned this week as an accountability mechanism, but has not released publicly since 2018, despite promises to do so.
“These reports were one of the few mechanisms to hold this government accountable for a system that has been plagued by understaffing and at times dangerous quality of care, and the Minister should release those reports today,” said Mowat.
“By scrapping minimum care standards and continuing to expand for-profit care in Saskatchewan this year, the Sask. Party is taking a dangerous gamble with seniors’ lives.”