February 17, 2012
For Immediate Release
Saskatoon – Residents and workers at St. Mary’s Villa in Humboldt received difficult news yesterday. The Saskatoon Health Region (SHR) has determined that structural problems exist with the floor in one wing of the facility. Their decision, in an effort to take a proactive approach and prevent risk of harm or injury to residents and workers, was to close this Wing and move residents out.
“St. Mary’s Villa is not unique. The fact is that health care facilities all across the province are aging and renovations, or in some cases full replacement, are needed,” said Barbara Cape, President of Service Employees International Union West (SEIU-West). “The public and residents need a safe place in which to access services, and our members need a safe place to work.”
Years of under-funding infrastructure and putting off renovations have left the public healthcare system in a tenuous situation when it comes to health and safety. In 2008, the government put out a plan to invest 152.8 million dollars to build 13 new long-term care facilities to replace 13 outdated facilities in order to get them up to the standards that seniors deserve. “We were encouraged by that plan, but we don’t know where that plan stands, if it’s going ahead or if the government has a new plan for healthcare infrastructure. We have reached out to the Minister of Health in an effort to talk about problems and solutions in the health sector, however, he has not agreed to meet as of yet,” said Cape.
One contributing factor to the Health Regions’ crumbling infrastructure is the lack of tradespeople within the healthcare system. “Recruitment and retention of tradespeople within the healthcare system has not kept pace with the needs of the facilities. It is ideal to have a pool of maintenance staff that can provide electrical, plumbing and carpentry services on an ongoing basis to maintain buildings and infrastructure. It’s difficult to keep tradespeople in the healthcare system when there are other sectors with much higher compensation packages available.
“This situation should not open the debate about public-private partnerships. Rather, this should be an opportunity to fulfill a promise to the people of Saskatchewan to provide quality health care and put patients first. Saskatoon Health Region has cast a wide net to gather solutions to the current dilemma facing the residents of St. Mary’s Villa. SEIU-West members stand ready to work with the Health Region and arrive at solutions for the residents,” continued Cape.
SEIU-West represents approximately twelve thousand working people in the province of Saskatchewan. They include members who work in healthcare, education, municipalities, community-based organizations, retirement homes and other sectors.
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For more information, contact:
Christine Miller, Communications Coordinator – 306.652.1011 ext. 2250
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