Saskatchewan

Sask. government pledges $73M for new long-term care facilities in La Ronge and Grenfell

The government of Saskatchewan announced Tuesday it is putting $73 million toward new long-term care facilities in La Ronge and Grenfell.

80 beds for La Ronge and 30 beds for Grenfell

Grenfell and District Pioneer Home was closed in 2018 due to safety concerns. The government is planning a new 30 bed facility. (Adam Hunter/CBC )

The government of Saskatchewan announced Tuesday it is putting $73 million toward new long-term care facilities in La Ronge and Grenfell.

Both communities had been advocating for new facilities for years.

The government said it can proceed with replacement of Grenfell Pioneer Home, with a decision on the procurement process expected this summer.  

It also said replacing La Ronge's current facility will mean "a significant expansion in capacity and service in the region."

Minister of Rural and Remote Health Warren Kaeding said the La Ronge facility will grow from 16 beds to 80, with 70 long-term care beds and 10 designated respite beds. He said the goal is to have the facility operational in 2022-23. 

"Our government is taking action to meet the need for long-term care services in rural and northern areas," Kaeding said. 

"We kept our promise to build 13 new long-term care facilities across the province, with the final facility now under construction in Meadow Lake."

Kaeding said the Grenfell facility will be 33 beds and be publicly funded by SHA, but the decision on who operates it has not been made.

Opposition Leader Ryan Meili said the new facilities are a "welcome investment" if they are built. He had questions about what role the private sector will play in the construction and operation.

"Who is going to staff Grenfell and La Ronge and all the other facilities that have inadequate staffing?" Meili said.

The government is spending an additional $7.2 million on 82 renewal projects in 51 long-term care facilities.

The upgrades include flooring and window replacements, heating and air conditioning upgrades, and water and sewer upgrades.

La Ronge and Grenfell have advocated for new LTC centres for years

In February 2019, the Saskatchewan Health Authority put out a request for proposals to replace long-term care services in Grenfell and Regina's Pioneer Village. Residents from both facilities were relocated in 2018 due to mould and other maintenance issues.

In 2016, eight residents of the Grenfell Pioneer Home had to leave the deteriorating home and were moved into homes in neighbouring communities. Families and residents expressed concerns about having to travel to visit their loved ones.

In 2018, 21 more residents were forced to relocate and the home was subsequently shut down.

In 2019, Grenfell community members and representatives of CUPE 5430 came to the legislature to ask the government to build a new facility.

Between April 2009 and February 2020, NDP MLA for Cumberland Doyle Vermette brought petitions forward into the assembly on behalf of La Ronge area residents asking for a new facility 63 times.

Calls for a brand new facility in La Ronge date back to at least 2014, when then-Health Minister Dustin Duncan said the budget at the time had money to support planning for a new long-term care centre in the community. In 2010, a report said La Ronge needed at least 46 new beds. In 2012, Vermette accused the government of ignoring the report.

The 2019 SHA CEO tour report of the La Ronge facility included concerns from residents and families: 

  • Aging infrastructure – where is new build at?
  • Further respite and long-term care beds are required.

The most recent CEO tour report of the Grenfell Pioneer home included the following comments:

  • Older building with significant infrastructure issues resulting in closing one wing (10 beds) in 2016.
  • Physical space – mould identified in many areas; asbestos flooring; heaving floors; small kitchen – flow poor; laundry area not meeting code; hallways narrow.
  • Old building with issues such as asbestos, mould, heaving floors, small kitchen, laundry not up to code, narrow hallways.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Adam Hunter

Journalist

Adam Hunter is the provincial affairs reporter at CBC Saskatchewan, based in Regina. He has been with CBC for more than 14 years. Follow him on Twitter @AHiddyCBC. Contact him: adam.hunter@cbc.ca

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