12/15/2014 02:03 EST | Updated 02/14/2015 05:59 EST

Government response to alleged senior assault not enough: Opposition

REGINA - Saskatchewan's Opposition leader says the government's response to an alleged assault of a nursing home resident is disappointing.

Last week, some employees at the Santa Maria Senior Citizens Home in Regina were suspended due to allegations of assault and neglect.

Regina police have launched a criminal investigation after being provided with video of what happened.

"This is incredibly serious and it should be taken that way," NDP Leader Cam Broten said Monday. "We continue to see from this government a very dismissive approach."

Broten said he wants an independent administrator named to the facility.

Health Minister Dustin Duncan said he is planning to meet with the facility's board of directors to decide on a course of action. He said he learned of the alleged assault on Friday and was appalled.

"Certainly I believe in a policy of zero tolerance when it comes to this type of treatment of a resident," he said.

He said he hasn't seen the video, which was given to the care home by a third party. But he said description of what took place was "horrific." He said he doesn't want to go into details because it's an active police investigation.

"In this case, Santa Maria administration I think responded quite quickly to this," said Duncan, who noted it was administrators who called police. "I think they responded appropriately."

A call to the care home on Monday was not immediately returned. A media release on Friday said Santa Maria has zero tolerance for actions that may harm a resident.

Broten said the alleged assault speaks to larger issues in long-term care.

"While violence is not widespread, we know instances of neglect throughout the seniors-care system in Saskatchewan (are) very common," he said.

The Santa Maria home has been at the centre of debate on provincial care standard ever since the death of a resident was brought forward by the Opposition a few weeks ago.

Medical records show Margaret Warholm, 74, reported losing 30 pounds in a year and had compression fractures in her vertebrae. She also had a large bedsore on her back that her family believes could have been prevented.

Saskatchewan's ombudsman is investigating.

The Opposition has been calling for minimum-care standards as well as for the creation of a seniors advocate. Broten has repeatedly said understaffing is an issue in homes across the province.

Duncan said sub-standard care isn't widespread.

"I would say we have some high-functioning facilities in the system right now," he said. "I'll be the first to admit that the job isn't done."