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Saskatchewan NDP ask government to set minimum care standard for long-term care homes

Staffing levels are a concern for the NDP who feel an outbreak of coronavirus in a long-term care home could affect the quality of health-care provided.
Staffing levels are a concern for the NDP who feel an outbreak of coronavirus in a long-term care home could affect the quality of health-care provided. File / Global News

The Saskatchewan NDP is calling for minimum care standards to be set in place for long-term care homes in the province.

This would include legislating staff to spend at least 4.1 hours on each resident per day.

“We need to make sure this is a time where our most vulnerable senior citizens are safe,” said Danielle Chartier, critic for seniors.

READ MORE: Military teams raise concerns about conditions at Ontario care homes

Staffing levels are a concern for the NDP who feel an outbreak of coronavirus in a long-term care home could affect the quality of health care provided.

“We’re incredibly thankful the pandemic hasn’t hit our long-term care homes yet in Saskatchewan, but it doesn’t mean that conditions that exist in Ontario and Quebec don’t exist here… and it also doesn’t mean if we do get an outbreak in a long-term care home that we are able and in a position to handle it,” Chartier said.

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The NDP has twice attempted to pass a private member’s bill calling for the re-establishment of minimum care standards, but the Saskatchewan Party government defeated it both times.

In 2011, the government of Saskatchewan replaced its minimum care standards with a 191-page document called “Program Guidelines for Special Care Homes.”

On Thursday, Premier Scott Moe held up the document during a press conference as he took aim at the NDP.

“The points put forward by the Opposition just simply aren’t true, and simply aren’t helpful,” said Moe. “We have guidelines for care here in this province, 191 pages of guidelines.”

Coronavirus outbreak: Ontario’s senior homes suffering from staffing crisis, minister says
Coronavirus outbreak: Ontario’s senior homes suffering from staffing crisis, minister says

He said the guidelines serve as a minimum-care standard for long-term care homes as he ensured the province they work.

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“They’re working because we have a very, very competent and hardworking and dedicated staff in our long-term care homes that are adhering to the guidelines and standards we have,” Moe said.

“We’re doing very, very well here in Saskatchewan. That is in large part because we have not had a very, very difficult situation of having COVID-19 run through our long-term care homes.”

Saskatchewan has declared one deadly outbreak in a long-term care facility at the La Loche Health Centre. The outbreak was declared on April 17, and two residents of the home died as a result of the virus.

After 28 days of no one else testing positive for COVID-19, the province declared the outbreak over.

“It’s only due to the hard work of our staff, and the public health employees, we have been able to isolate the virus, isolate the individuals, do the contact tracing and ensure that it is not running rampant through our long-term care centres,” Moe said.

The NDP said the true account of the state of affairs in long-term care homes will be in the CEO tour report — which has yet to be released.

READ MORE: Long-term care homes with the most coronavirus deaths in Canada

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Since 2013, the CEO tour report highlights challenges within the province’s health-care facilities.

“At this moment, it’s the best tool we have for accountability,” said Chartier.

The last time the report was published was in 2019, for the year 2018.

Moe says the report is coming, but did not release an official date or timeline.