REGINA - Extendicare, a national private long-term care provider, is ending its contract with the government of Saskatchewan after the province's deadliest COVID-19 outbreak happened in one of its homes.
Scott Livingstone, head of the Saskatchewan Health Authority, said the government and Extendicare came to a mutual agreement to end the contract.
The health authority will take over operations of Extendicare's five long-term care homes in Saskatchewan, which have more than 540 residents.
At this time, the residents are to remain in the homes that are owned by the private operator.
The health authority took over management of Extendicare's facilities following a COVID-19 outbreak at Parkside Extendicare in Regina in late 2020.
Over 62 days,194 of its 198 residents became infected and 39 died from the virus. There were also 132 staff members diagnosed with COVID-19.
"We are committed to work collaboratively with the SHA to support the transition process while remaining focused on the needs of residents, families and staff throughout," Extendicare said in a statement Thursday.
In August, Saskatchewan's ombudsman issued a report following an independent investigation into Parkside.
The report showed staff and residents did not wear masks despite a masking order, and 27 per cent of staff reported working while symptomatic. Some staff told the ombudsman that they faced harassment if they asked to stay home because they were sick.
The report also said there was a lack of personal protective equipment in the facility, and residents were housed four in a room.
Minister of Seniors and Rural and Remote Health Everett Hindley said the ombudsman's report is just one factor that prompted the parties to end their contract.
In September, the health authority issued its own report to the Ministry of Health, which found Extendicare lacked a pandemic response in its Saskatchewan homes.
"I am sorry that the measures and supports in place were not sufficient to prevent this tragedy, and our government is committed to ensuring the necessary changes are made to prevent similar situations from occurring in the future," Hindley said.
Livingstone also apologized to the families and friends of those who died in the outbreak.
"We hope we can honour their memory by moving down a path that can strengthen the services and supports of people who need long-term care in Saskatchewan," Livingstone said.
The transition of services from Extendicare to the health authority is expected to take several months. The province said it will provide updates throughout the process.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 14, 2021.