Yesterday, the Saskatchewan government released the reports from the 2016 Regional Health Authorities CEO Long-Term Care Facility Tour. The CEOs of each regional health authority reported serious issues facing residents in long-term care, such as infrequent baths, sub-par food options, and desire for enhanced recreational opportunities. In response, the three health care provider unions, SGEU, CUPE and SEIU-West, are calling on the provincial government to properly invest in front line staff.

“We all know that we need more staff in long-term care,” said Bonnie Erickson, SGEU’s Health Sector vice-president. “The question is, what is this government going to do to ensure that every senior in our province has access to the quality of care they deserve? Any additional cuts or layoffs in health care in this province will put even more stress on already over-taxed workers.”

Front line care providers in Saskatchewan are facing uncertainty from proposed budget cuts, privatization, and the looming merging of all of the province’s health regions. Now the growing provincial deficit calls into question whether the government will put needed resources into the system.

“Understaffing and workload are critical issues in continuing care in Saskatchewan,” said Gordon Campbell, president of CUPE Health Care Council. “With more staff time, workers can be more attentive and provide better care to their residents. All of our members care deeply about the residents, and provide a high level of care – we need the government to adequately fund seniors’ care.”

Since 2011, when the Government of Saskatchewan removed regulations requiring a minimum standard of care for seniors, concerns about understaffing and workload in continuing care in Saskatchewan have grown.

“Skilled professionals in our health care system have faced increased workloads and decreased staffing levels, all in the name of cost savings,” said Barb Cape, president of SEIU-West. “It is far past time for our government to reinstate mandatory minimum care standards in LTC to prevent more tragedies from happening. In addition, it is imperative that this government invests in health care. Our province deserves world class health care for seniors and all residents – not service cuts.”