After the recent reversal on the decision to close the Regina Lutheran Home, CUPE is calling on the provincial government to stop treating Saskatchewan seniors like an afterthought and create a long-term plan for long-term care.

“The closure of Regina Lutheran Home should never have been on the table in the first place,” said Bashir Jalloh, president of CUPE 5430. “We welcome this reversal, but in reality, this mess is just the latest example of this government’s short-sighted and chaotic approach to long-term care.”

Darlene Gilewich, first Regional Vice-President of CUPE 5430 has worked at the Regina Lutheran Home for almost 40 years.

“This has been an incredibly difficult time for the Lutheran Care Home community. I am relieved this government got dragged into listening, but it has been a nightmare for staff, and residents and their families. The people who built this province deserved better,” said Gilewich.

Despite a growing and aging population in Saskatchewan, the number of long-term care beds in Saskatchewan has dropped from 9,240 in 2001 to 8,517 beds in 2018, including the loss of 180 beds at Regina Pioneer Village. Long-term care beds in the Regina area are over 95% capacity, and seniors frequently wait months, even years for an open bed.

“This should not be a surprise to this government – health care workers have been sounding the alarm about this bed shortage for years,” added Jalloh. “They need to stop treating long-term care like an afterthought and create a real plan to create more spaces for seniors to live with the dignity and respect they deserve.”

CUPE is calling on the province to work with the health sector on a plan to create more long-term care spaces, build new public long-term care homes and increase staffing levels to support resident care.