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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

June the 9th and still seeding! This is unknown territory for me and I’m sure many other farmers. There had better be a long, open and warm fall for all of this to work. Let’s hope that everything gets wrapped up this week.

Speaking of things not getting wrapped up…the Provincial Auditor’s report came out last week and one item stuck out really big for me. When the PC Party was last in government, we started an initiative to come up with a health card that would be the entry point for all Saskatchewan citizens in our health care system. Originally the card was thought of as a way to monitor where the money was being spent in the health care system and to see if there were ways to work with individuals on being more cost-effective as they sought their medical solutions. It was also thought that as technology improved, that a patient’s experience with the constant frustrations of waiting rooms and line ups could be eased.

Unfortunately, the PC government did not have enough time to work on this process before being replaced by the NDP in 1991. Since that time, successive NDP and Sask Party governments were supposed to be using the vastly-improved technology available and easing concerns about confidentiality with appropriate legislation to make the health card a functioning reality in our medical system. The Auditor’s report shows that over $550 million has been spent on E-Health systems and there is still no end in sight. The bureaucrats running the system don’t really know where E-Health is going and there had been no strategic time lines put in place to bring this process to a conclusion. In other words, we have an open-ended spending process of taxpayers’ money in the Department of Health because no one in government is defining the goals that need to be achieved and then demanding that it happen in a set time frame.

On top of all of this, we have the ridiculous situation of some of the health regions which are funded by and large through provincial tax dollars saying that they won’t agree to providing information to the central agency in Saskatchewan Health so that the proper solutions can be found. So we have some high-priced administrator in one of our health regions saying “no” to requests from the same people that provide the money for that person’s paycheque and so the process comes to a grinding halt for solving the E-Health initiative.

You have heard me say many times that our system was far better served when the health regions were not in existence. At least in the old system, someone would have been responsible and that responsibility would have flowed up to the Minister of Health who would have to answer in the Legislative Assembly for the expenditures. The spending of $550 million of taxpayers’ money on something that should be a good news story has instead turned into something which in my view is a total embarrassment for our province.

Speaking of embarrassments on another topic, I find it really strange that the Premier could not come up with someone to take on the Finance portfolio in the government of Saskatchewan. As everyone is aware, Ken Krawetz will not be running in the next election and it was expected that like most of the other senior Ministers who have announced that they won’t be running, there would be a cabinet shuffle with new people having the opportunity to be part of the governing process. I would have thought people like Jim Reiter who as a former RM Administrator and who would understand accountability of taxpayers’ money would have been a possible choice to replace Krawetz. There are also people like Justice Minister Gord Wyantt who is a lawyer and former City Councillor in Saskatoon would understand public accountability. It seems, however, that the gene pool in the Sask Party caucus is so thin that Mr. Wall can’t trust these folks with more responsibility and if he did give them more responsibility, there would be no one to fill their existing places. That is a sad commentary on how you expect to run the government of Saskatchewan.

But perhaps this is all really about Mr. Wall’s style which is as one prominent Political Science Professor at one of our universities said is government by “Premier” not by “government by Premier and Cabinet” which is the Canadian tradition. In my view, taxpayers are best served when there are well-balanced Cabinets of able Ministers taking responsibility for their portfolios and bringing those concerns to the Cabinet table where they are roundly debated and good consensus solutions arrived at. We do not have that in this province at present. We are governed by the whims of Mr. Wall and his un-elected inner circle.

Your feedback is welcome on anything you see in the Monday Morning Commentary. Please send your comments to contact @pcsask.ca. If you know of anyone that would be interested in receiving this by email, please forward me their email address. Also – don’t forget to check out our website at pcsask.ca.

These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.

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