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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

Monday Morning Commentary has been expanding every week with new people wishing to read another perspective on public issues in Saskatchewan. I don’t know if that includes Premier Wall and the government of the day but my comments about putting a Minister in charge of flood preparations last week seemed to have caught their attention.

Last Wednesday the Premier said that the province was preparing for a possible spring flood. He had no details about how that was happening only just that it was and that they might be spending between $15 and $20 million on the initiative. I was certainly pleased to hear that someone was finally paying attention to what could be a very serious problem across Saskatchewan 2-3 months from now. As we have all heard, there are many people across the entire province who still don’t have their issues from the floods of 2010 looked after and in fact, some of them are being totally ignored by the current government. If any of you know of individuals that are in this circumstance, please let me know so that when I am travelling across the province this winter, I would gladly take the opportunity to sit down with these folks and discuss how they can be better served by their public officials.

The folks up in Wakaw had a tremendous turnout on Saturday for their rally to try and save their hospital and bring to the attention of the government that their doctor recruiting initiative is not up to the mark. The process that was begun back in 1993-94 when the NDP government closed 53 rural hospitals and the Plains Health Centre has not stopped under the Sask Party government. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy that when you overload the few doctors left in rural Saskatchewan, they will eventually move elsewhere because they can never take a day off and simply have patient overload. It then becomes almost impossible to recruit a replacement when they know going in they will be overwhelmed by people who are desperate to get a family doctor back in their lives. The government was told back in the 1990s that doctors would leave when they were no longer hospitals to work out of. Unless the whole recruiting strategy is changed and the health regions also change their mindset, this battle to preserve rural health care will continue to be lost. If it is lost, we are then condemning whole segments of our population to second class health care.

Speaking of health care and its ongoing costs, I noticed an article in the weekend papers which said that there is a new round of negotiations with the managerial and out-of-scope workers at the top end of the health districts and that some of these positions will be looking for raises over 30%. The number that really shocked me was that there was 2500 of these folks spread around the province and these are only the manager types. What has become of our system when we have replaced a few hundred provincial government employees in the old department of health, prior to health districts, with 2500 folks spread across the province with over 50 less hospitals to look after and a much more centralized health delivery service in a few big centres. I don’t think us poor taxpayers have been getting the entire picture of what our health system looks like these days. The health care audit that the Sask Party initiated after assuming power in 2007 obviously did nothing to curb the growth of bureaucrats in this new health system of ours. It’s no wonder the frontline people get frustrated and burnt out.

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

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