Saskatchewan long-term care home inspection process could soon change, minister says

A 2020 COVID-19 outbreak at Parkside Extendicare has been linked to more than forty deaths. File / Global News

The Saskatchewan government again came under fire Thursday for the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on private, for-profit long-term care facilities in the province.

But Seniors Minister Everett Hindley says his government won’t rule them out, despite most COVID-19-related nursing home deaths in Saskatchewan happening in such facilities and with most existing for-profit care homes soon to be operated by the Saskatchewan Health Authority.

“We haven’t ruled out private, for-profit care,” Hindley said Thursday morning, adding, though, that there are plans in place to examine the way care homes in the province are inspected.

Read more: Saskatchewan Health to take over operation of Extendicare’s long-term care services

“This is something that the ministry’s been working on for some time now and that is to implement a new long-term care inspection process. We’re hoping to pilot that at some time in the not too distant future in a number of communities in different types and sizes of facilities in Saskatchewan.”

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Hindley did not give further details about how inspections might differ from the status quo.

From the Saskatchewan Ombudsman’s report “Caring in Crisis” released earlier this year following the Parkside outbreak.

During question period Saskatchewan NDP Seniors Critic Matt Love highlighted the Parkside Extendicare outbreak, which was linked to the deaths of more than forty people, and pushed the government to commit to ending for-profit care in the province.

“We know that it cost nearly half a million dollars for the SHA to come in to help save lives when it became so clear that Extendicare couldn’t get the job done,” Love told the chamber.

“But what we don’t know is how much will it cost this government to end their dangerous and deadly relationship with Extendicare, and what we also don’t know – is this truly the end of for-profit care in Saskatchewan?”

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Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan nurses union calls for public inquiry into Parkside Extendicare COVID-19 outbreak' Saskatchewan nurses union calls for public inquiry into Parkside Extendicare COVID-19 outbreak
Saskatchewan nurses union calls for public inquiry into Parkside Extendicare COVID-19 outbreak – Dec 30, 2020

Speaking to reporters later, Love doubled down on his critique.

“We’ve seen for-profit care present a deadly set of circumstances for residents both here in Saskatchewan and around Canada,” Love said.

“I’m certainly looking for a commitment from the minister that he’s seen the evidence that for-profit care is bad for seniors and has no place in our province.”

Love added that his question period queries were “aimed at getting transparency from the government.”

“We’ve been calling for the end of this relationship for a long time,” said Love in reference to the Extendicare transition.

“What we want to see from the government is transparency about the cost and the process and what the future looks like for long-term care in Saskatchewan.”

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Read more: Ontario long-term care staff must have 1st COVID vaccine shot to attend work

Hindley said the details of the Extendicare transition are still being worked out.

“That process is working its way out right now. We’re still fairly early in this,” he said.

“That will take place over the next period of weeks and months. There’s still a lot to be determined through that particular process. In the meantime our priority as the government is to make sure we’re providing the best possible care for the residents of these homes.”

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