MICHELE BEATON: Statement on how to improve staffing concerns in long term care

As my colleague and Leader of the Official Opposition, Peter Bevan-Baker, pointed out this morning, we are facing a dangerous threat to our long-term care homes. This threat has the potential to harm Islanders who represent some of our most vulnerable population, senior citizens.

I agree with Peter that this government has done almost nothing to improve the situation. That is both intolerable and heartbreaking. In fact, there are some things that can be done right now – today – that can go a long way towards helping the situation.

First, the government can offer staff on understaffed units pay incentives. For example, a unit requires eight staff members to be fully staffed. If one person cannot make it in for the shift, the amount of wages for that missed person would be divided up by the staff that were available for the shift.

Secondly, the government can make sure childcare at or near Island hospitals and long-term care facilities is available and covered. This is especially important given schools are out and families are in need of help arranging care for children.

Finally, the government can offer incentives for Islanders to complete RCW and LPN courses. It can subsidize the cost of tuition for both Holland College and Marguerite Connolly Training & Consulting. For this subsidy, students would sign a return for service agreement.

Among the most disappointing things about our healthcare system is the lack of care, direction, planning, and presence by the Minister of Health. Islanders expect their government to be present and available at all times, especially during times of crisis. They do not expect their government to abandon its responsibility and for the Minister of Health to go AWOL.

I am calling on the Minister of Health to immediately implement these suggestions. I am also renewing the Official Opposition call to the Premier to demand his Minister do the job he appointed him to do.