Reforms in long-term care and ending for-profit care in Saskatchewan is what the Saskatchewan NDP is calling for following the disastrous impacts of COVID-19 at long-term care facilities in the province.
NDP Leader Ryan Meili and Seniors Critic Matt Love made the calls on Tuesday morning while standing outside of Extendicare Parkside in Regina.
Meili pointed to the “predictable and preventable” COVID-19 deaths that have been reported in for-profit long-term care during the second wave of COVID-19 in Saskatchewan. Extendicare, the only for-profit long-term care provider in Saskatchewan, has seen 43 deaths among residents from the COVID outbreak, while six residents of Extendicare Preston in Saskatoon have died.
Love said more than 16 per cent of all provincial COVID-19 deaths have been in Extendicare facilities despite the company recently reporting increased profits increased while it claimed $82 million in federal wage supports.
“When we see this scale of deaths both in Saskatchewan and across Canada in for-profit long-term care facilities, one thing becomes abundantly clear and that’s the profit model for care is broken and it’s failing seniors,” stated Love.
While Meili and Love were critical of the government for not doing enough to protect seniors, he is disappointed in for-profit care providers like Extendicare for failing to properly care for its residents during the pandemic. He mentioned how staff, the Saskatchewan Health Authority and experts in the field have pointed to failures in providing proper care to seniors at Extendicare homes since 2013 including inadequate staffing levels, ventilation and infrastructure failures and overcrowding.
“We’ve raised this over and over again with the government, and they have refused to act,” said Meili. “Why they have refused to listen to seniors, families and frontline staff is baffling.”
Meili and Love have presented a number of tasks they believe the government should implement as soon as possible:
- 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