Unsafe Staffing is Making Us Sick

For Immediate Release – December 12, 2017

Saskatoon – Members of SEIU-West are reacting to the report on absenteeism and sick leave use from the former Heartland Health Region (HHR) that was recently released by Provincial Auditor of Saskatchewan.

“We are pleased that the Auditor acknowledged that our health care providers, particularly our Continuing Care Assistants, work in a physically demanding, dangerous job,” said Barbara Cape, President of SEIU-West. “Being a CCA means you will need to access sick leave.”

As the Auditor herself noted, CCAs have among the highest rates of workplace injuries according to the Saskatchewan Workers Compensation Board. While the report contains useful information about some of the challenges facing our health care system, it ignores other significant factors, and contains some troubling suggestions that do not address the core issues of understaffing and workload.

“The report’s narrow focus on sick leave hours per full time equivalent – FTE – misses the question of workload,” continued Cape. “The questions we should be asking include: is there enough staff? Is the employer scheduling enough front line workers, for enough hours, to meet the growing care needs of our residents, clients and patients? Our members in Heartland tell us, no. The levels of care needed by in-patients, long-term care residents, and home care clients are rising, and staffing levels have not kept up.”

“We aren’t clear why HHR was chosen for the audit,” added Cape. “But we agree with the Auditor’s assessment that employees being off work due to illness or overwork is affecting access to health care in Heartland. And we hope that the leaders of the new Saskatchewan Health Authority will listen to the voices of our front line health care providers, our residents and our patients. We need to have a serious discussion about safe staffing levels and the ability to provide quality, skilled care.”

SEIU-West represents more than 13,000 working people in the province of Saskatchewan. They include members who work in health care, education, municipalities, community-based organizations, retirement homes and other sectors. They are joined by one colour – purple – and one union – SEIU-West. Purple works in our communities! Visit www.PurpleWorks.ca to find out more about the members of SEIU-West.

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For more information, contact:
Christine Miller, Communications Coordinator
Phone: 306-652-1011 ext. 8733

Click here for a printable PDF version of MEDIA RELEASE: Unsafe Staffing is Making Us Sick.

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