Additional measures to ease COVID-19 pressures at Alberta continuing care facilities
Published Monday, April 20, 2020 4:35PM MDT Last Updated Monday, April 20, 2020 9:30PM MDT
CALGARY -- Health-care aides in Alberta will get a $2-an-hour raise and long-term and acute care facilities will get money to hire additional staff for the battle against COVID-19 in seniors centres, Health Minister Tyler Shandro announced during Monday's daily update.
The province is also advancing $24.5 million to care centre operators to help alleviate immediate cost-pressures that they have incurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Health-care aides are integral to the well-being of residents, and they play a critical role across the healthcare system," said Shandro.
"We cannot overlook their contribution,and we must not lose sight of how the pressures they face can directly impact the functioning of entire facilities. We are confident that these measures will make a difference not only to health-care aides, but to the residents of these facilities who deserve quality and compassionate care."
The province said the additional funding would allow for care facilities to hire about another 1,000 full-time staff, as well as add 1,000 practicum students. The new measures are anticipated to cost $7.3 million a month, throughout the pandemic.
NDP seniors and housing critic Lori Sigurdson responded to the move in a release, stating "I am relieved to see the government belatedly providing surge funding for continuing care facilities to hire staff and modest hazard pay for workers. But I am frustrated that it took two weeks of dithering from Jason Kenney and the UCP government to introduce these common-sense measures."
Sigurdson says the NDP called for the measures on April 7.
She was also critical of the government for failing to have a centralized provincial plan for staffing at continuing care facilities.
"We know many workers will have to quit two or more part-time positions in order to comply with the public health order," she said. "Some will be forced to quit all of their positions and seek emergency supports. Other provinces have taken charge of this situation. It's completely irresponsible that Tyler Shandro has failed to act."
As of Monday, 330 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed at Alberta continuing care facilities, with 38 COVID-19 related deaths.