ASSINIBOIA — Opposition leader Carla Beck was in Assiniboia Tuesday, where she again raised concerns about the state of health care in the province.
This time, she expressed concerns about the closure of all the beds at the Assiniboia Union Hospital, news that broke while the NDP leader’s tour was in the community.
“The 16 acute care and alternate level of care beds have been temporary closed here with no details on when they might open,” Beck said at a media availability in Assiniboia. “This closure is not available on the Saskatchewan Health Authority website or any other place, so I’m afraid we may be breaking the news to people even here in the community about these closures.”
Beck has been on a tour of the province since taking over the NDP leadership in late June, with the issues of health care disruptions and recruitment of health care professionals a particular focus.
In Assiniboia, Beck said they have been talking to health care professionals about some of the concerns raised, which have included chronic understaffing and shortages in recruitment and retention.
Beck said this is something she has heard from communities across the province.
“The inability to recruit of course is an issue,” said Beck. “The existing health care workers are burning out. We’ve asked a lot of our health care workers for the past two years and I think they have done just an amazing job going above and beyond, but people are tired. They are unable to access vacation or time off in many cases. We’ve heard of staff at this facility working up to 16-hour shifts. We’ve heard of physicians being on call for up to 100 hours at a time.”
Beck said the government has talked about a recruitment strategy, but “there are no details.”
“We’ve heard concerns that positions are not even being posted, something we’ve heard from facilities and communities right across this province. When positions are being posted, most often those positions are temporary or part-time, which people are expressing is very difficult to stay for those positions, let alone recruit people from outside the community to come and stay. People are demanding answers.”
Beck added the 16 people being displaced from the Assiniboia facility are having to relocate to other communities like Moose Jaw or Shaunavon that have their own challenges. She made it known it was time for the government to address the issue, noting they have "heard nothing from the premier."
“The very first step has to be for this government and this minister to sit down with communities, to sit down with health care providers, and start coming up with solutions.”