03/12/2014 06:03 EDT | Updated 05/12/2014 05:59 EDT

Saskatchewan to start posting personal care home inspection info online

REGINA - Saskatchewan residents looking for information on conditions in personal care homes should soon be able to get answers online.

The Saskatchewan legislature has passed a law that requires inspection reports for 242 facilities be put on the Internet.

"The action that we've taken is in response to requests of the provincial ombudsman, the provincial auditor, as well I think there is interest from the public to be able to make an informed decision about a personal care home that they're choosing for themselves or for a family member," Health Minister Dustin Duncan said Wednesday.

Duncan said the reports should be available in a few weeks, although there will be copies of the handwritten findings for now.

The findings will include the date the inspection took place and a list of what was wrong.

The minister had initially said it would be fall before the information was made public — after the province moved to electronic reporting and inspectors had tablets.

"One of the reasons why we were moving toward an electronic way to do this is just in terms of the timeliness of updating the inspections," he said.

"We want to ensure that the public has accurate information and that personal care home operators, when they do correct deficiencies, wouldn't have been perhaps judged by an out-of-date inspection."

Personal care homes are licensed and monitored by Saskatchewan Health, but they are privately owned and operated.

People who wanted to see inspection reports used to have to file a freedom-of-information request with the government.

There had been some back-and-forth between the government and the Opposition over whether the province needed legislation to post the inspection reports online.

Duncan said lawyers with the Ministry of Justice recommended legislation as the best approach.

But NDP Leader Cam Broten argued the government could have moved sooner, noting the provincial auditor said in 2012 that more information about personal care homes should be available to the public.

"This is about families having access to really important information and making decisions with where their loved ones will live," said Broten.

"That's why this information needs to be up. That's why the auditor said it should be up in 2012."

Broten said he still has concerns about how many quality and safety violations are taking place in personal care homes.

The government said 12 personal care homes have had their licences revoked in the past 10 years.