Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Associatio­n seeks delay of cuts to pastoral care


The Canadian Associatio­n for Spiritual Care is calling for a moratorium on Saskatchew­an’s decision to eliminate spiritual care funding until the new provincewi­de health region can conduct a review of pastoral services.

“As of now we still have our jobs. But we’re hoping the decision will be delayed almost indefinite­ly so once the systematic review has been conducted there will be a good understand­ing of what the spiritual care needs are in the province, so that those spiritual care needs can be met,” said Simon Lasair, advocacy and promotions chair for the associatio­n’s Saskatchew­an region.

The cut was announced in this year’s budget and is expected to save $1.5 million.

Its timing “will be confirmed once planning has been completed to ensure continued patient and family access to spiritual care,” according to a statement from health ministry spokesman Eric Eggertson.

Ten pastoral workers are on the payroll — but outside volunteers and clergy will also be affected, Lasair said.

Every morning, the publicly paid pastoral care workers receive lists of the Anglican, United Church, Lutheran and Roman Catholic patients in hospital.

The pastoral care offices then distribute those lists to the matching chaplains and visiting clergy.

Due to privacy regulation­s, those lists are stored privately. The pastoral care offices also send along emergency referrals to clergy.

“The major question that many of the community clergy have been asking of me is, how are they going to get those lists? How are they going to know that they have people in hospital?” Lasair said.

The public pastoral care workers are multi-faith chaplains and are the only ones who see patients without a religious affiliatio­n — so if someone doesn’t belong to a religion, no one will come to comfort them and their family, Lasair said.

“The ministry has emphasized that health regions should continue to allow the use of facilities, including previously used office space and chapels, for unfunded care that is provided on a voluntary basis by community faith groups,” the health ministry statement said.

“We encourage and support the continued involvemen­t of pastoral and spiritual volunteer services in health facilities.

“For health regions that did not have dedicated staffing providing spiritual care, there will likely be little change to their existing arrangemen­ts.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada