Saskatchewan completes takeover of private long-term care homes
Saskatchewan has followed through on the takeover of five for-profit long-term care facilities.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) started the transition of homes owned by Extendicare Inc. and their staff last year after one of its facilities in Regina was the site of the province’s deadliest COVID-19 outbreak in 2020. The decision to end the contract with Extendicare was announced in September 2021 by Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, Seniors, and Rural and Remote Health Everett Hindley.
Over 62 days in 2020, 194 of 198 Extendicare Parkside residents became infected and 39 of the 42 deaths were directly attributed to the virus.
Saskatchewan’s Ombudsman issued a report last year that, among other things, said staff reported facing harassment if they asked to stay home because they were sick.
“The agreement between the SHA and Extendicare means a transition for workers and residents,” said Barb Cape, president of the Service Employees International Union-West (SEIU-West). Cape is also a member of the Canadian Health Coalition’s Board of Directors.
“However, there are still a number of outstanding questions about staffing, policies and overall direction that we need to address to ensure the continued high level of professional care for our patients, clients and residents.”
At the same time, Cape says, “this transition is a significant and positive move for public health care in the province.”
The Canadian Health Coalition’s national seniors care strategy calls for consistent standards of care and staffing levels across the country. As well, the Coalition calls for federal funding to be invested in public long-term care facilities and home care services, since they provide better quality care than private facilities and services.
Three of the Extendicare homes are located in Regina, one is in Saskatoon and the other in Moose Jaw.