Published in the Moose Jaw Times Herald Thursday, July 21, 2011
With the impending closure of Ina Grafton Gage Home and McNiven Manor, 41 long-term care beds in Moose Jaw are set to disappear. As front-line health care workers, SEIU-West members are deeply concerned about what the loss of these long-term care spaces means for those seniors who call this their home.
These seniors and their families are now forced to frantically search for new place to call home, almost certainly at a higher cost. This situation has created disruption and turmoil for these people, which will undoubtedly have adverse effects upon their health and well-being. Not only are they losing their home, they are losing a part of their family. For the 25 staff at Ina Grafton Gage Home and McNiven Manner, watching their family members be evicted from their home is painful.
But there is a broader concern for SEIU-West members. We are deeply concerned about the future impact of the loss of 41 long-term care beds in this community. With an aging population, this community and this province cannot afford to have long-term care beds close. Rather, we need to be opening new long-term care spaces to help meet the growing need.
In an effort to avoid this closure, SEIU-West urged the Ina Grafton Gage management to fill vacant beds to raise additional revenues. At the time of the closure announcement, there were seven vacant spaces which, at a cost of between $1,500 and $1,800 per month. This amounts to between $10,500 and $12,600 per month in lost revenue (times that by 12 for a yearly figure that takes you to around 150,000/year). This situation existed for months, with management refusing to even advertise the availability of spaces.
Now they blame the collective bargaining process and a lack of resources for this closure, despite the fact that the staff members have already seen their wages rolled back repeatedly in an effort to keep Ina Grafton Gage Home open. This closure could have and should have been avoided.
As a community and broader society, it should concern us when seniors on fixed incomes get eviction notices and are forced to scramble to find a new place to live. It should also to concern us when long-term care homes are being shut down at a time of growing need. This is not the fault of the SEIU-West members who are dedicated to the seniors who live in the homes that are being closed, but a Board of Directors who failed the seniors in Moose Jaw.
To see the letter as it appeared in the Moose Jaw Times Herald, click on the link below: