Like most Canadians, I was shocked and saddened to see the sudden passing of former Finance Minister Jim Flaherty. Mr. Flaherty stepped down less than a month ago as Canada’s third longest-serving Finance Minister. As we have all seen from the tributes pouring in from across Canada and around the world that it is obvious that Mr. Flaherty had good relationships across party lines and across philosophical ideologies. He demonstrated a political awareness and understanding of what it takes to make Canadians and Canada one of the bright lights when it comes to fiscal matters around the world. His stewardship and willingness to put aside his own personal feelings on monetary policy during the tough years of 2008 and 2009 are a testament to a great Canadian politician and public servant. I would like to join other political leaders on behalf of the PC Party of Saskatchewan in thanking Mr. Flaherty and thanking his family for allowing him to serve us all with such grace.
There are a couple of matters that I would like to touch on this week because they are very important to the health and well-being of all of us. Our Acting Provincial Auditor and staff are going to try and undertake a value-for-money spent analysis of the Sask Party government’s implementation of the so-called “lean” process in our health care system. This will be a very difficult undertaking for the Auditor’s office because much of the money that is already been spent is on “theory”. Until these procedures are actually implemented for some period of time, it will be difficult for the Auditor to ascertain true value for money spent. It is obvious from the comments coming out of many areas in health care that there are deep concerns for patient well-being as the “lean” process is implemented.
The Sask Party government has already spent large sums of money building the propaganda machine that is supposed to convince all of us that $3500 a day Japanese Senseis’ advice is just what the doctor ordered. Because of this all-out propaganda push by the Department of Health and the health regions, it is absolutely imperative that health care professionals have the freedom to speak out on the “lean” process without fear for their jobs or the well-being of their families.
The Saskatchewan Union of Nurses (SUN) has spoken out in the last few days because of the pressure already being put on their members who have commented about “lean”. Some nurses who have been exposed to the “lean” process are finding that it is compromising their patients’ well-being. We have known for many years that our front-line health care professionals have had to put up with bloated bureaucracies in the health regions and told to keep their mouths shut. They need the absolute freedom to speak truthfully and directly to how this process affects patient welfare.
The Minister of Health needs to come out in the next few days and unequivocally spell out the government’s position on this matter. Mr. Wall and his government have been very quick to point out the extra numbers of nurses and doctors that the province now enjoys and how this makes Saskatchewan a better place in which to live. He now needs to give these same health care professionals the freedom to use their professional judgement in the best interests of patients across this province without fear of retribution.
My prediction that there needed to be more scrutiny on the spending of the Cabinet Secretary came true this past week with further revelations of that gentleman’s involvement in Cabinet Minister’s travel expenditures. My question to the Premier would be….why is this person only on probation? This person has been forced to pay back $7000 of illegitimate spending to the taxpayers of this province. Who knows how many other dollars over the years have already been misspent by this individual on similar activities? Accountability starts at the top. This person was hired by the Premier and the Premier should do the right thing and dismiss him forthwith. The role of the Cabinet Secretary has never been to hide Cabinet Ministers’ expenses. The Premier needs to set an example.
As next weekend is Easter, next week’s commentary will be sent out on Tuesday, April 22nd.
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These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.