Minister responsible doesn’t rule out using for-profit LTC providers moving forward

Asked if the government might consider Extendicare to run long-term services in the future, the minister responsible said “I don’t think that would be something we would be what we would be looking at.”

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Even though the province severed ties with Extendicare during the pandemic, the minister responsible for long-term care services in Saskatchewan is not ruling out for-profit care.

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But, the government plans to bring in additional reviews and inspections for the facilities coming out of the pandemic, which saw several outbreaks and deaths occur within the walls of such homes.

Minister for Seniors and Rural and Remote Health Everett Hindley said a pilot program inspecting long-term care homes operated by the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) and by the private sector, will be operational in “the not too distant future.” The program would focus on facilities of varying sizes and would span all over Saskatchewan.

The minister said it’s still the early days of planning for the pilot, and as such was unable to explain what specifically the inspections would focus on within the facilities, only that it was part of the government’s commitment to improving conditions within long-term care homes.

“Our priority as the government is to make sure that we’re providing the best possible care for the residents in these homes,” said Hindley.

In mid-October it was announced that long-term care services at Extendicare facilities were to be transitioned to the SHA.

A lawsuit has been filed on behalf of relatives of Extendicare Parkside residents, a Regina home, who were diagnosed with COVID-19 during the province’s worst care home outbreak. Also, according to an Ombudsman investigation into the deaths at Parkside “194 out of 198 residents got COVID-19 and 39 of them died of it. Three others who got it died of other causes.”

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The Opposition wants to know what this will cost the province.

“What we want to see from the government is transparency with the costs and the process and what the future looks like for long-term care in Saskatchewan,” said Matt Love, Opposition critic for seniors.

With the province taking over the Extendicare contracts, Love said he wanted to know if the government plans to operate the facilities itself or if it is looking for another private care provider to enter the province.

“Is this the end of for-profit care in the province,” asked Love.

Hindley said, “We haven’t ruled out private for-profit care.”

Of the over 150 long-term care homes here, said Hindley, there is a need for a public and private mixture.

Asked if the government might consider Extendicare to run such facilities in the future, the minister said that given the Ombudsman report and what occurred during the pandemic, “I don’t think that would be something we would be what we would be looking at.”

alsalloum@postmedia.com

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