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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

We all know how important it is to chose the right words when communicating a problem to other people. Often times in the English language, a new word comes along and defines something that has been a problem but couldn't be explained easily. This spring you have heard a lot of people and especially Brad Wall talking about "transformational change". The word transformational, in the minds of most people, is talking about a fundamental shift or a total reconstruct of whatever item is being referred to.

During the last provincial election campaign, the PC Party talked about and campaigned on just such a thing in our health care system. We made a very strong argument that the health region structure imposed upon Saskatchewan's health care by an NDP government over 20 years ago has not worked out. We have a large bureaucratic, unaccountable and expensive system of health care delivery which we cannot afford and which does not provide the necessary services. We said it should go and Saskatchewan health care should be returned to a system where health dollars are accounted for in the Legislative Assembly and there is a system of accountability flowing from that change through all levels of health care delivery.

Our Premier quickly sensed the way the mood of the electorate was changing on this subject and faced with large deficit budgetary problems came up with the word "transformational" to describe what his government would do with health care and other large expenditure items. It became the favourite word for himself and his Ministers through the much-delayed spring session of the Legislature and we all have been waiting to see exactly what would flow from the Premier's transformational change.

Last week, we found more of the same old political management and spin-doctoring by the Sask Party government. We now have a three person commission - all friendly to the Sask Party government - studying what we will do with our health care system. We have the former chairman of the Premier's own health region. We also have the current head of the Prince Albert health region and the former registrar of the College of Physicians and Surgeons and is currently the man running the Sask Party's doctor recruitment agency.

I'm sure these are all good people but two of them had their positions because of being politically-friendly to the current government. The other person, Dr. Kendel, has represented the interests of Saskatchewan doctors for many, many years. Don't you think if these people had been in favour of transformational change previously they would have done something about it or at least voice their concerns in a public manner? To my knowledge, that has never happened.

The proper place for this transformational change is in the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan. Because the Sask Party did not campaign on changing the health structure, the Minister should have brought in legislation to do so, so that the people of this province can have an open debate and then have the government of the day bring forward the necessary changes to be enshrined in legislation.

The PC Party campaigned on achieving this change over a four-year period of government which is the proper thing to do so that the change to governance is financially sustainable and achieves the end results of better health care delivery to the citizens of this province. As usual, Brad Wall is trying to use slight-of-hand and word-smithing to get himself out of a bind he and his government have created because they ignored for 8 years the deteriorating situation in health care. These 8 years had some of Saskatchewan's best economic times coupled with large Sask Party majority governments which could have implemented change.

The health region structure with its politically-appointed boards and unaccountable bureaucracies was doomed to failure from the beginning. The downturn in Saskatchewan's economy has finally exposed it for what it is. What the Minister of Health unveiled this past week is more about looking after the Sask Party's politically-appointed friends on boards and their friends in the health bureaucracy than it is about delivering front-line health care. If this was an honest effort, there would have been at least 1 front-line provider as part of this commission instead of simply people who will carry the Premier's political agenda.

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These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons

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