SASKATOON -- On Nov. 9, provincial health officials reported positive cases of COVID-19 at Rehoboth Elder Care Home in Saskatoon.

A staff member from the care home told CTV News that at least four people there had tested positive for COVID-19. Two of them are isolating at the home, while the other two are isolating at the hospital and will return once they are cleared.

The care home says they’ve taken every precaution to safeguard against the virus, including hiring sanitation crews. Two people who both tested negative for the virus have been removed by their families.

The care home says on Friday a representative from the Saskatchewan Health Authority was on site doing testing.

They were one of four care facilities in Saskatoon to have confirmed outbreaks of COVID-19 in November.

On Tuesday, Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, said the province has had “20 cases in a long-term care facility in the last several months” and “now, in one month, we’ve had 13 confirmed cases.”

On Friday morning, NDP leader Ryan Meili and NDP critic for seniors Matt Love were critical of the province’s handling of long-term care facilities.

“With the modelling provided recently by Dr. Shahab, we know that we need to take serious action, and that needs to be immediate,” said Love.

The NDP is calling for the Saskatchewan Party to:

  • Launch an independent review on the state of long-term care facilities in the province, and an immediate and public review of staffing levels
  • Divert funding from the government’s COVID-19 contingency fund for staffing in long-term care and home care
  • Put emergency protocols in place to guarantee minimum standards of care, with appropriate resident to caregiver ratios
  • Look at minimum hours of daily care for each resident in long-term care, in reduction to the number of residents per room
  • Have regular and clear communication on pandemic outbreaks in the province, and
  • Work with families and community organizations to address mental health needs of residents

“As we start to see the levels of community transmission rising the way we have to date, and what the modelling is showing, those concerns are very real,” said Meili.

“And we know that in long term care in Saskatchewan, the caregiver to resident ratio isn’t what it should be, that the care, even within the government’s own reports, has been described as inadequate.”

In a statement to CTV News, the province says they “have implemented significant measures to restrict visitors to heath care facilities, including long-term care homes, during the pandemic. This has included screening of staff entering any of the facilities, a masking directive for those who work in care areas or travel through those areas and working to ensure staff are cohorted to minimize staff from working in more than one facility.

“These decisions were not taken lightly, but were made to keep residents and health care workers safe. It is through the efforts of residents, families and staff, that Saskatchewan has not seen outbreaks in long-term care facilities similar to those in other jurisdictions. This is a crucial time when we all must work together to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect those who are among the most vulnerable.

“We recently committed to hiring an additional 300 continuing care aides to deliver home care services and support seniors residing in our long-term care facilities. This includes 180 new continuing care aides for long term care facilities, 63 new home care aides and 57 new continuing care aides to expand home care services in rural and remote areas of the province. These additional supports are a priority for our government and will be implemented as soon as possible.

“Providing more support for Saskatchewan seniors is part of our plan for a strong Saskatchewan, and we will be working quickly to deliver on that promise.”