NDP accuses government of 'avoiding and ignoring' mould concerns in Regina seniors complex

The deputy leader of the Saskatchewan NDP wants to see government action at Regina's Pioneer Village because of encroaching mould.

Opposition MLA Nicole Sarauer told reporters on Monday the party had obtained a memo from the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) stating that rooms in the facility continue to be closed on a weekly basis.

"This is something that the government has been well aware of as a problem for years," Sarauer told reporters.

"They've been avoiding the situation and ignoring it and as a result, we're now seeing seniors being forced to move from their homes."

The memo said 142 beds at the home had been closed so far — roughly half of the complex. It said the health authority was trying to figure out how to meet the needs of seniors in the home who require services.

Last year, residents at the home were relocated to other homes over mould concerns.

The note went on, saying that staffing will be affected as seniors are moved out of the home. Health Minister Jim Reiter said no workers had been laid off, so far.

In a release, CUPE, the union representing workers at the centre, said the closures would certainly mean some residents would have to move internally in the centre or be transferred to another care home.

The union said the people involved are the most vulnerable in the centre and said workers are worried about any reorganization.

"This is the second incident this year of service reduction due to the serious health and safety risks from mould," said Sandra Seitz, president of CUPE 5430, in a news release. 

"CUPE is concerned that lack of clear timelines and a concrete plan at Pioneer Village is indicative of the need for a province wide strategy to repair aging health care facilities."

The SHA put out a request for proposals in February to replace long-term care services in the Regina and Grenfell homes. The proposal was for a replacement for up to 100 long-term care beds.

"They've been trying to do a lot of it by attrition so that they minimize disruption to employees but they're getting to the point they need to have the discussion," said Reiter. 

"The hope is that most, if not all of the employees will be placed somewhere else and any potential layoffs will be either non-existent or very very minimal."

Reiter said remediation work is being done right now on the building. A decision on whether to keep the facility open has not been made.