Mother Nature is smiling on Saskatchewan once again. You can actually go for a walk outside without fear of freezing exposed flesh. Let’s all hope Mother Nature takes her time in melting all of this snow. Our area of this province is showing 150% of normal snow pack and areas to the east of us are showing up to 200%. There were many difficult lessons learned in 2010 and 2011 with excess moisture. Let’s hope that the hard lessons learned pay dividends this spring if we get a sudden melt.
Speaking of things melting, it appears that the government’s much-bragged about surgical waiting list reductions have fallen by the wayside. The Qu’Appelle Health Region is now back to where they started over a year ago with waiting lists growing and the health region in a very large deficit. The government says they are not going to come up with more money as they did last year to help the region out. Instead the health bureaucrats are going to have to clean up their deficit and their surgical waiting lists by pairing down expenditures and adopting the government’s new “lean” technology.
Obviously, the dramatic reduction in available beds that this province has seen over the last 10 years and the inability to recruit the appropriate people and the OR time necessary will make this situation almost permanent. The severe overcrowding in both Regina hospitals makes it an almost impossible problem to solve for the frontline people that have to man the wards, the diagnostic services and other services that patients need.
Speaking of lean technology, this is the new buzz word that is being applied to the new regional hospital in Moose Jaw. This new hospital is projected to have between 20 and 30 fewer beds than the current one but will supposedly provide more services because of the way that it will be constructed and how the staff will interact with patients. You would think that with the mess in Regina just 40 minutes down the road that the brain trust in the Department of Health would be looking at this new facility as a way to take some of the pressure off of Regina. Moose Jaw is ideally suited to intercept a lot of rural patients who are currently being funnelled into the Regina system. Many have lamented on the folly of previous NDP governments for closing the Plains Hospital. That folly could be corrected by putting a more substantial institution in Moose Jaw which could replace the role that the Plains Hospital should have been filling.
There are many health professionals in large cities that commute far more than 40 or 50 minutes to their workplaces and that is all we are talking about between the west side of Regina and Moose Jaw. It makes you wonder if there is anybody in the current health structure that knows how to think outside the box.
My final comment of the day is about the Premier’s legacy project involving C02 at Saskatchewan power plants. There is a special working group put together with a big long name which is better known as IPAC-C02. A very bright reporter at the CBC wouldn’t take no for an answer and dug into the spending of money around this project even though all the officials maintained that everything was on the up-and-up. Low and behold we find agreements that were not in writing but just so-called hand shake agreements amongst the individuals in charge of the money to fund their own private companies. This was with the full knowledge of the Deputy Minister, the Crown Investment Corporation President and senior CIC executives. If you are wondering where these people came from - they were all appointed by Mr. Wall and his cabinet colleagues.
It would be bizarre to believe that the Minister responsible would not be briefed because there is money from the provincial government, Shell Oil and the Federal Government involved in this venture. Shell Oil must be wondering what kind of “banana republic” we are running here and the Federal Conservative government should be asking some really tough questions about how their money is being spent.
Is this the openness and accountability that Brad Wall bragged about when he was elected Premier? This is no different than the NDP’s SPUDCO affair but at least in that instance, there are a few potato sheds spread around the province which are currently being used to store potatoes. It appears the only thing that got stored in this project so far was a bunch of computers and the storage bill was $2.1 million. The voters of this province should be really sick and tired of Mr. Wall’s legacy projects when we have a budget that is failing in almost every aspect.
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These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.