Cover: Crumbling awayA new report sponsored by CUPE 5430 shines a light on the Saskatchewan Party’s failure to properly plan for, or invest in, Saskatchewan’s long-term care system.

The report, entitled Crumbling Away: Saskatchewan’s Long-Term Residential Care Policy and Its Consequences was written by Dr. Susan Braedley, Tara McWhinney, Asia Barclay and Kiersten Jensen of Carleton University.

“Our analysis shows that over the last decade, despite demographic trends that predict needs for more capacity, Saskatchewan long-term care policies have both reduced the number of beds available, and eroded service provision by removing staffing requirements that allow for dedicated care hours per resident,” said Dr Susan Braedley, an associate professor at Carleton University. “Failures to plan for and dedicate sufficient funding to replacing, renovating, repairing and maintaining the physical infrastructure of publicly owned and operated Special Care Homes, have left the sector in disrepair, and literally crumbling away.”

The Conference Board of Canada conservatively estimates that Saskatchewan will require an additional 4,648 long-term care beds by 2035, in order to address changing demographics. Despite these trends, the number of long-term care beds in Saskatchewan has dropped from 9,240 in 2001 to 8,517 beds in 2018.

For CUPE members, the loss of long-term care beds is personal. “The closure of beds at the Grenfell and District Pioneer home and Regina’s Pioneer Village has had a devastating impact on workers, families and communities,” said Sandra Seitz, President of CUPE 5430. “We are seeing the impacts today of the government’s failure to plan for an aging population and aging infrastructure.”

The report also found that publicly owned long-term residential care is correlated with the highest quality care if adequately funded. However, Saskatchewan is “developing a private pay alternative of questionable quality” through its promotion of personal care homes that are offering higher levels of care, typically served by special care homes.

“There is significant high-quality evidence that ‘for-profit’ provision of long-term care leads to lower-quality care, lower staffing ratios, higher rates of hospitalization and mortality, escalating costs and lower accountability, and financial transparency,” added Braedley. “The government of Saskatchewan should continue to build on the province’s legacy of investing in the public provision of long-term care. Privatization will not ensure that seniors, and others who require chronic care, live with dignity and respect as they age.”

Download the report