Alberta auditor says staff shortages led to major care home problems during pandemic

EDMONTON — Alberta's auditor general says the province’s continuing-care system struggled desperately to cope in the early waves of the COVID-19 pandemic mainly due to crippling staff shortages.

Doug Wylie says the problem worsened considerably when the province mandated workers could not staff multiple sites but that the directive was effective in reducing spread of the virus.

Wylie says planning for such a massive outbreak was hampered by poor communication between agencies and inadequate infrastructure and lagging test results compounded the crisis.

Wylie made the findings in a report examining how health officials and those in Alberta’s 355 continuing care centres coped over eight months in 2020.

He says despite initial problems, staff worked diligently to find temporary solutions to battle the virus that ultimately led to more than 1,000 deaths in the facilities.

He has made eight recommendations to improve the system, including formalizing a centre of expertise to address future outbreaks.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2023.

The Canadian Press