Despite promising to hire hundreds of continuing care assistants (CCAs) as part of their 2020 re-election campaign, numbers revealed by the Minister for Seniors show that the Saskatchewan Party government has made almost no progress on hiring in nearly three years.

During the 2020 provincial election, the Saskatchewan Party committed to hiring 300 more CCAs, promising one new care assistant for every 50 residents of long-term care facilities across the province. When questioned by the Official Opposition during legislative proceedings earlier this week, Minister Everett Hindley acknowledged that there were only 17 more full-time CCAs working in the province from the 2019-20 to 2021-22 fiscal years.

“These numbers prove what our members have been experiencing daily as long-term care facilities remain understaffed and workers are run off their feet doing their best to provide quality care for residents,” said Bashir Jalloh, president of CUPE 5430. “It’s obvious that the government has not been hiring CCAs, and by the Minister’s own admission, it’s clear that this is yet another broken promise from the Saskatchewan Party government.”

Jalloh said that the government must start taking recruitment and retention of CCAs seriously, especially in rural Saskatchewan. Currently, there are no initiatives in place by the government to retain existing CCAs, despite the Minister stating that there were 177 vacant CCA positions as of September 2022, and many have left their jobs. When asked by the Official Opposition about their plans to retain staff, Minister Hindley admitted they don’t have any, saying that CCAs should be “grateful” for their jobs and that is “what they’re paid to do.”

“It’s one thing to pull a big number out of a hat to get votes during an election campaign, but it’s another to actually hire new CCAs and retain existing staff to ensure proper staffing levels,” added Jalloh. “From the Minister’s dismissive and frankly disrespectful attitude, it seems that either the government has given up on fulfilling this promise, or they had no intention of ever doing so in the first place. Instead of more broken promises, the government must come up with real solutions to recruit and retain CCAs so that long-term care residents have access to the care that they need.”

CUPE 5430 is the largest healthcare union in the province, representing over 13,000 workers.