Health care workers laid off at Regina Pioneer Village as government moves towards privatizing long-term care

The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) is sending layoff notices to CUPE members working at Regina Pioneer Village (RPV) and moving residents to private, personal care homes.

RPV has been plagued by mould and asbestos issues for years and has had to close beds twice before due to remediation efforts. Now residents are being moved into two private care homes in the Regina area.

“These layoffs are a direct result of the Sask Party government’s failure to address the crumbling infrastructure in our health care sector,” said Sandra Seitz, president of CUPE Local 5430. “Now patients are being moved into private, for profit care homes. We should all be concerned about the loss of jobs, the costs for residents and the quality of care.”

The number of long-term beds in Saskatchewan continues to decrease as illustrated in the report Crumbling Away: Saskatchewan Long-Term Residential Care Policy and its Consequences. The closure of RPV will also have an impact on residents.

In private care homes, residents pay out of pocket for accommodation and care without government oversight on fees. In 2012, the provincial auditor reported these charges ranged from $1,000-$4,000 per month. Currently, there are personal care homes with rates as high as $6,000 per month. Nursing and other specialized care, medications, personal care supplies, and more are typically additional charges.

Personal care home jobs require significantly less training for care staff, and, in contrast to government run special care homes, there is no requirement for nursing oversight, either on-site or on-call. This means that personal care home residents assessed at high care need levels (Level 3 or 4) are not guaranteed critical medical oversight.

“Publicly owned, adequately funded long-term residential care is the best way to ensure the highest quality care for patients and residents,” added Seitz. “There is significant research that indicates that for-profit long-term care leads to lower-quality care, lower staffing ratios, higher rates of hospitalization and mortality, escalating costs and lower accountability and financial transparency.

CUPE Local 5430 represents over 13,000 health care workers across Saskatchewan. CUPE will continue to advocate for our members’ job security, health and safety and public health care.

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