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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

It's good to see this two-week long cold snap come to an end. I was out four days ago putting up electric wire around my grazing corn and haven't been able to do any since because of the intense cold. There is always a lot of cleanup work to do on Saskatchewan farms right up until Christmas and this cold weather has certainly been putting a damper on those activities.

Speaking of putting a damper on things, the comments by the Federal Finance Minister who says the federal government will not maintain the level of health care transfers to the provinces raises some very interesting questions. We have known in Saskatchewan for some time that there must be change in the way that our health care is delivered. The PC Party campaigned vigorously in the last election campaign on eliminating the hugely-expensive health region structure.

If the Federal government follows through on its threats to cut their portion of health care spending by 3%, it will force the province's hands. Our Sask Party government has been talking about "transformational" change for months now. Our provincial budget is now in the red by over a billion dollars. The government has had a commission running around the province for months and still no clear indication of where Brad Wall and crew are going.

Hopefully the provinces and the Federal government can sit down and negotiate a long-term funding model which cannot be arbitrarily changed by one side or the other. I think the Federal government, though, wants some assurance from the provinces that expensive, politically-driven models like the one in Saskatchewan are not the norm for health care delivery across Canada. At the end of the day, accountability is the number one priority. That's accountability by politicians, accountability by health care professionals like doctors and accountability from you and me to not go running to the health care system every time we have an ache or pain. Let's hope they get on with it.

On another note concerning health care, I'm glad to see that Dr. Ryan Meili is going to be contesting the NDP nomination in Saskatoon Meewasin for the expected by-election. I've known Dr. Meili's family for a very long time and although I don't agree with some of his views, I believe the guy is very intelligent and certainly has a sense of some of the ills facing Saskatchewan's less fortunate citizens. If he is successful in the nomination, it would bring about a very interesting debate during the by-election campaign with his views as a practising physician being put on the table. The PC Party plans on running a candidate in this by-election bringing our views on the health regions to the forefront again. I believe that what we need in our Legislature is a healthy and diverse debate on this and other issues which are crying out for political accountability.

On a final note, I am wishing each and every viewer of this commentary a Merry Christmas and a great holiday season. There will be no commentary next week so I wish to include a Happy and prosperous New Year to all from Joanne and myself.

See you in 2017!

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These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons

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