With no word on when the byelection to fill former MLA Tim McMillan’s vacant seat will be called, the war of words between the two major parties got underway last week.
Last week, Saskatchewan P MLAs were in Lloydminster, meeting with members of public organizations and community groups to talk about problems in the order City.
Health critic for the NDP, Danielle Chartier, slammed the closure of a wing of the Dr. Cooke Extended Care Centre on the last day of her visit to Lloydminster.
Chartier said the P understands that Lloydminster is a growing community and with growth comes more need for seniors care.
“Lloydminster is a growing city, with a shortage of long-term care facilities,” she said.
During a visit with a senior’s action group, Chartier heard that there was a proposal on the table to save the crumbling Dr. Cooke wing.
“That proposal looks at keeping the Dr. Cooke wing, that is expected to be torn down, open. Along with that they are look at refurbishing the current wing, which would create the much needed space to help seniors stay in their homes.”
Minister of Health Dustin Duncan said that the Saskatchewan government can not do much to stop the closure of the current Dr. Cooke wing.
“The Dr. Cooke Extended Health Centre in Lloydminster isn’t owned by the Saskatchewan government, it is owned by the Alberta Health Services (AHS).”
Chartier said the government is hiding behind the AHS.
“Prairie North Health Region, I understand, manages and runs the facility, so when the government, comes out and says that, they are just hiding behind AHS. This way, they don’t have to worry about Lloydminster families.”
Duncan stated that there have been two different reports that have been tabled in favour of the closure of the Dr. Cooke facility.
“Two reports in the past have recommended that the wing be demolished ... in fact the first report was authored in 2007 when the NDP were still the government.”
Duncan admits that this issue isn’t new.
“It does mean that 55 beds are going to be torn down,” he said. “But it is important to note that (AHS) will be opening up a new 60-bed long-term care facility in Lloydminster which will accommodate those residents currently in the Dr. Cooke facility.”
But the NDP isn’t buying that.
“Right now, Lloydminster has seniors waiting in the hospital for long-term care facilities. You have seniors that are improperly placed, which right now the policy is the first available bed policy,” Chartier said. “So, you have seniors in dementia wards who might not need to be in those wards.”
“Lloydminster will see an increase of five beds, so I think that the (NDP) are missing the mark,” Duncan said about this issue.
The minister said that the Saskatchewan government, along with the Alberta government, is about to launch the Home First/Quick Response initiative for seniors in Lloydminster.
“This is an additional program that is on top of the home care program that is intended to help seniors return to their homes more quickly,” Duncan said. “So, what we are trying to do is provide more on the long-term care side while augment the services to return seniors to their home.”
Duncan said that seniors being in their own homes is what he and the Saskatchewan government have been hearing.