On Tuesday, the province released its roughly $17-billion budget with health costs making up more than one-third of the cost.
While the Saskatchewan Party government stuck to its campaign promise of hiring 300 more continuing care aids (CCAs), it’s now being spread over three years instead of one. At the same time, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) said the budget fails to address issues of understaffing and infrastructure challenges.
“(CCAs) that was talked about during the election is 300 full-time equivalents. It’s definitely needed. And if you’re going to be hiring 300 care aides and be able to retain and recruit and alleviate the crushing workloads in (LTC), you’re going to have to provide meaningful work also,” CUPE 5430 president Sandra Seitz said.
Saskatchewan seniors’ minister Everett Hindley said on Tuesday during a press briefing that less than half of that promised number will be hired this budget year.
“We’ve got funding committed for, it’s actually about 108, I think, CCAs that we’ll be hiring in this current budget year … it’s part of the overall commitment which is the 300 that we want to get into the province but this is what we’re going to be doing,” Hindley said.
“Our commitment is to hire 300 (CCAs) in Saskatchewan and a number of those will be hired this budget year. We would want to hire them as quickly as possible, recognizing, of course, that there’s training that has to take place and to find the people to fill these positions.
“Our full intention we will be hiring the full complement of 300 CCSs. This year, the budget allotment is to hire the first 108 (CCAs) in Saskatchewan and we’ll hire the rest as quickly as we can.”
The minister also said around $500,000 is also being set aside for planning the replacement of Regina’s Pioneer Village.
“The funding in the budget for that is about half a million dollars for planning dollars. Essentially what it is, is we’re going to use that funding to expand the scope of the replacement of (LTC) beds in (Regina).
“People will be aware that there is a process underway already for the replacement of Regina Pioneer Village. What we’ve identified and what the dollars committed to in this budget, the $500,000, is to expand the scope of that, to take a look at all of the (LTC) facilities in Regina and to really broaden the scope of what that should look like in the future for the replacement of (LTC) beds in Regina,” Hindley said.