In a recent letter to Minister of Health, Jim Reiter, SEIU-West lays out how the government claim of added investment in health care has not resulted in a green light for the SHA to spend needed funds to rectify the shortage of staff to fill growing needs.
Quite simply our members have not reported any increase in funding or support in any part of the health care sector.
We have discovered that one Long-Term Care facility currently has 11 posted vacant positions. Yet, we understand there are actually 40 vacant lines in the master rotations – or positions in total. Why so few postings?
It appears that those ‘financial resources’ that Minister of Health, Jim Reiter states are ‘not to get in the way of rectifying this problem’ are not actually being used to bolster the staffing complement.
So what is the problem?
Continuing Care Assistants (CCAs) work in long-term care facilities, hospitals, and home care. They are the classification that provide the most regular hands-on care to residents, patients, and clients. Their job is not only physically demanding but emotionally and mentally draining as they build relationships with those people who are reliant on them for much of their personal of care.
What does it take to become a CCA?
Health care employers do not provide any incentive or assistance for those completing the CCA training program. Students need to invest over $6,000 to attend the one-year program. When they complete the program they are likely to begin working in an other than full-time position because full-time positions are not readily available for new hires. Often new hires will work multiple positions and shifts to make ends meet on wages that don’t match the increased cost of living.
In health care, you need CCAs to do hands on care but there just aren’t enough of them. The wages that are being offered haven’t gone up so people are leaving and wages are not high enough to attract new hires. Another drawback is the high rate of injury that exists in this classification which relates directly to understaffing in this classification.
This isn’t a problem unique to Saskatchewan. Staffing complements in health care are an issue across Canada. However, Saskatchewan is no stranger to being a leader in health care. The genius of introducing Medicare took strong leadership, and foresight. We need the people of Saskatchewan to support our call for reinvestment in their public health care system.
We need a real human resources plan with a focus upon recruitment; more CCAs hired to share the load of front line care will ensure that injury rates decrease and safety improves for everyone – residents, patients, clients, and staff.