CUPE 5430, the union representing public health care providers in Regina, Saskatchewan and area, is calling on the provincial government to ensure that all new long-term care beds remain publicly funded and administered.
“The provincial government announced 600 new beds in Regina, but has only confirmed that less than half of the beds will remain publicly operated. Through the COVID-19 pandemic we saw what a difference public long-term care makes,” said Sandra Seitz, President of CUPE 5430. “Private care providers often took shortcuts with staffing levels, personal protective equipment and the health of residents. In fact, four out of five COVID-19 related deaths in Canada have either been residents or staff of a long-term care home – the highest proportion in the world and many of these outbreaks were in for-profit spaces.”
Regina Pioneer Village housed 400 residents at its peak, but due to mold and infrastructure decay, there are now less than 100 residents. While the announced beds in Regina are certainly welcome, CUPE is also concerned about the status of beds available in rural Saskatchewan.
“CUPE is concerned about areas outside Regina and the shortfall of beds in the province’s rural regions,” added Seitz. Rural facilities are experiencing staffing shortages and retention issues. We need to invest in long-term care beds across the province.”
The government also must address the need to staff the beds and provide a proper level of care.
“During the provincial election, the Sask. Party promised to hire 300 new continuing care assistants. To date, they have only announced funding for 100 positions. Without legislative standards of care, how can we ensure that residents have access to the care they need?”
“CUPE believes that publicly owned and publicly run institutions are the key for this government moving forward. Over the last few years, we have seen the giant and costly mess at the P3 Sask. Hospital in North Battleford. We have seen the SHA have to step in and take over management of private facilities during the pandemic,” said Seitz. “The hidden costs of privatization are too risky. We urge the government of Saskatchewan to move forward by investing in public long-term care.”