NDP questions government response to COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care homes in Saskatchewan

COVID-19 was the main focus of the final day of Question Period Thursday, in particular the outbreak at the Extendicare Parkside home in Regina.

NDP Leader Ryan Meili says he’s calling on the province to increase supports for long-term care homes, and asks why this wasn’t done at the beginning of the pandemic.

“The government’s rationale for not acting at the time was to say — and I quote — ‘Saskatchewan has not seen outbreaks in long-term care facilities similar to those in other jurisdictions,’ as though we were somehow immune to this happening here,” Meili said. “Those outbreaks, the public health experts and Saskatchewan doctors warned about, they’re here.”

The province announced the SHA has entered a temporary co-management of the Extendicare Parkside home, where 11 people have lost their lives to COVID-19.

Rural and remote health minister Everett Hindley says the province is taking the file very seriously.

“It’s why — dating back into March and even prior to that — we worked very closely with Dr. (Saqib) Shahab and his team with respect to providing restrictions and measures in place that would protect the most vulnerable people in this province, including those senior citizens across Saskatchewan at our long-term care facilities (and) in our personal care homes right across this province.”

Meili also asked why the province didn’t do a circuit breaker stoppage of the economy, adding it would have saved lives and kept businesses operating.

Trade and Export minister Jeremy Harrison says the province is investing significant dollars to COVID-19 relief.

“This government has come forward with very real and significant resources in the hundreds of millions of dollars to support not just the healthcare system — which we dealt with $200-million additionally just (Wednesday) night — in addition hundreds of millions of dollars for support in other parts of the economy and other parts of government.”

Harrison says a circuit breaker like the one Meili is talking about took place in Victoria, Australia. He says that circuit breaker led to people being forced to stay home for 23 hours a day for four months.

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