REGINA - Official Opposition Leader Ryan Meili and Critic for Seniors Matt Love stood outside Extendicare Parkside in Regina today to call for sweeping reforms in long-term care and an end to for-profit care in Saskatchewan.
“The tragic wave of deaths in long-term care during the second wave of COVID-19 was predictable and preventable. The Sask. Party government has created a crisis in care over the last decade,” said Meili. “Our seniors deserve the best care possible. We can no longer accept Scott Moe’s status quo for our loved ones. We need real reform now, including ending the for-profit model in long-term care that has failed our province so drastically.”
Love noted that Extendicare is the only for-profit long-term care provider in Saskatchewan, and recently reported that its profits increased while it claimed $82 million in federal wage supports. Extendicare has made national news for its poor response to the COVID-19 pandemic, responsible for some of the nation's deadliest outbreaks in multiple provinces. A Toronto Star analysis conducted during the pandemic in Ontario found for-profit nursing homes had four times as many COVID-19 deaths as city-run homes.
This pattern has replicated itself here. 43 residents of Extendicare Parkside died after contracting COVID-19, and six residents of Extendicare Preston have died. More than 16% of all Saskatchewan COVID-19 deaths have been in Extendicare facilities.
The underlying failure of Extendicare to properly care for its residents has been identified by staff, the SHA and experts in the field since 2013. These failures include:
- “Staffing levels are inadequate”
- Ventilation and infrastructure failures
- Overcrowding and four-bed rooms
“When we see the scale of death in long-term care in Saskatchewan and across Canada one thing is clear - for-profit care is failing our seniors,” said Love. “Families whose loved ones have died in Extendicare should not have to watch that same company post profits and pay out shareholders. It’s just wrong. And it betrays the hard-working staff who have put themselves on the line to prevent an even worse outcome for so many, getting sick themselves in the line of duty.”
Specifically, New Democrats are calling for:
- The rapid transfer of all for-profit long-term care facilities in Saskatchewan to the SHA (this applies to the five facilities owned by Extendicare (Canada) Inc.)
- The immediate release of all information on COVID-19 outbreaks, and outcomes in long-term care
- Immediate hiring of the 300 Continuing Care Aides promised in the Throne Speech
- A workforce review committee including the SHA and health care unions to set a human resources plan to address understaffing in long-term care
- Extending Phase 2 of the Saskatchewan Temporary Wage Supplement Program to all healthcare workers in the province
- Legislated minimum standards of care for all LTC facilities in Saskatchewan - both SHA administered and private not-for-profit operators - including a standard of no more than two residents per room.
- An independent Seniors’ Advocate for Saskatchewan
“These reforms are crucial to restoring the faith of Saskatchewan families in the care that our loved ones receive,” said Meili. “The Sask. Party’s government’s failures have been exposed during the course of the pandemic. To ignore the urgent need for real reform is not just wrong, it is downright dangerous.”