NDP joins concerned family member of long-term care residents in calling for legislated minimum care standards

NDP Leader Ryan Meili and Seniors’ Critic Danielle Chartier today urged the Premier to listen to the experience of Dianne Morgan, who has stepped forward to share her parents’ experience with Saskatchewan’s Long-term Care system, instead of doubling down on defending his government’s non-legislated and unenforceable guidelines in long-term care homes.

Dianne’s parents both suffered from inadequate care as residents in a care facility in Regina as recently as last year. She described her mother’s experience as horrible, with four residents to a room and nothing but a curtain on the washroom door, and residents waiting over an hour for call bells to be answered because there were never enough staff. Dianne raised concerns about her mother’s dramatic 50 lb. weight loss and bedsores.

Calling Morgan’s story “tragic and all too common,” Meili called for the Saskatchewan government to reverse their 2011 decision to remove minimum care standards and staffing ratios from regulations, and instead legislate and strengthen them, as the Opposition twice pushed for in private member’s bills. He also called for the Premier to acknowledge that following Ontario’s lead in deregulating care has been a mistake.

“We know that families and workers in all of these facilities do their very best, but the Sask. Party’s chronic underfunding and understaffing make caring for aging loved ones so challenging,” said Meili. “The Premier showed once again yesterday that he has the wrong priorities by refusing to even consider further protections for the people who built this province. The premier also showed that he doesn’t understand what’s going on in long-term care, or the need to prioritize better support for the most vulnerable population in this COVID-19 pandemic. Particularly with the threat of a second wave, this is the moment to step up and show leadership in securing better care of Saskatchewan seniors.”

After the tragic death of Margaret Warholm due to inadequate care in a Saskatchewan care home in 2013, the Provincial Ombudsman received almost 100 complaints from Saskatchewan families frustrated by the inadequacy of care their loved ones were receiving. The Ombudsman’s 2014 special report, “Taking Care”, found neither the Ministry of Health nor the former health region were following the existing guidelines Moe pointed to yesterday, and that these guidelines weren’t being applied in facilities throughout the province.

“The Premier’s suggestion that problems don’t exist in our long-term care system is not only unhelpful, it’s wrong,” said Chartier. “For years, residents, their families, workers on the frontlines and health care unions have been sounding the alarm about dangerously low staffing levels and quality of care for our seniors. The fact that COVID-19 has not yet broken out in our care homes is a blessing, but it does not mean seniors are not suffering or that they’re not vulnerable to a second wave of the virus. Saskatchewan seniors deserve better.”