I just about did this commentary last Thursday afternoon but after a sober second thought, I realized that you shouldn’t do political commentary or discuss health matters in Saskatchewan when you are angry and afraid of using extremely bad language.
I have now joined the ranks of thousands of other Saskatchewan citizens who have made all of the necessary changes in their lives in order to accommodate the surgical wait times of Saskatchewan Health. Joanne and I changed a whole host of things in the Swenson household so that we could make sure that the long-awaited knee surgery took place and that I would be in fine form for the upcoming calving and planting season and that my good wife and the rest of my family would not have to pick up too much of the slack during the recovering process.
Obviously my knee surgery did not take place as scheduled. I did get to the hospital on time, got on my designer hospital gown, robe and paper booties, got the IV line in for the anaesthetic and sat for an hour and a half with mounting anticipation. I then had a very nice nurse come and tell me that I had been “bumped” from the schedule because someone else had greater need that afternoon of the orthopaedic surgeon’s time.
Because Moose Jaw only has one orthopaedic surgeon, there is a tremendous load on that individual. I had particularly wanted to have my procedure done in my home community rather than travelling an hour down the road to the medical gong show which goes on in the Regina hospitals because I believe this type of surgery is best done close to home. I also wanted this particular surgeon because he had done a fine job of saving my leg after having an extremely bad infection in the same knee approximately 7 years ago. It now looks like I am into early June and will be carrying on the next three months with my trusty knee brace.
I wish my experience was unique but unfortunately when talking to people in the medical professions and other people in the community, there is nothing unique about this at all in Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan people are constantly having to work around the health system rather than the health system working for them. Is there any wonder that for the past two election campaigns and on a regular basis the PC Party has called for a dramatic change in the way our health system is delivered? We seem to be the only ones that have been listening to the people of this province and understand that our over bureaucratized delivery system seems to be more for the people running it than it is for the people who are expecting the services.
Maybe in this Wednesday’s provincial budget our Sask Party government will finally realize that they cannot overestimate resource revenue and will have to learn how to manage the province’s fiscal resources in a more prudent manner. Health care would be a good place to start. But as we all know, there are a host of areas where Saskatchewan people want improvements. That means tough choices have to be made and you need to start thinking outside the box. Mr. Wall and his Sask Party “insiders” have been living the good life off of expanding resource revenue base and have not been thinking outside any box.
Alberta has discovered that this resource win fall will not last forever and will be running a deficit budget this year. They have realized and Saskatchewan had better realize that there has not been enough attention paid to developing more value-added industry and technological development to allow for a more sustainable economy. Those long-term sustainable jobs are what will provide the economic wherewithal to pay for the services that we all want.
What is going to happen in Saskatchewan when all of the construction jobs currently taking place at potash mines come to an end? Where will all of those highly paid trades people go to and will their income tax dollars go with them? I can’t think of one thing that Mr. Wall and his government have thought about to make sure that those people stay in our province. Building a football stadium on the Exhibition Grounds in Regina is not going to keep many of them around. We are not talking about a few hundred jobs. We are talking about thousands of them that will soon be coming to an end.
I am sure that all of you have your own set of priorities that you wish to see addressed. Some of them government can be involved in, some of them government can show leadership in and some of them are things that you and I are going to have to take the bull by the horns and drive ourselves. Most of all what we want to see is vision and leadership along with a strong dose of fiscal reality. I am sure we will all watch with interest on the 20th.
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These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.