The Saskatchewan NDP is questioning what the provincial government is doing to help reduce wait times at hospitals in Saskatchewan.
During question period on Monday afternoon, health critic Vicki Mowat talked about how their party heard concerns from the public over the summer regarding the state of emergency departments and hallway medicine.
Mowat also asked for a full public review of overcrowded emergency rooms during her speech in the legislature.
She said they are seeing emergency department targeted initiatives clawed back and not prioritized by the government.
“We need to see targeted investment in those processes to make sure the whole flow is tackled,” stated Mowat. “Simply adding on a couple beds here and there is good, but it’s not going to address the problem.”
What she’s referring to is health minister Jim Reiter’s response to criticisms by the NDP that the government is not taking enough action to alleviate pressures felt at Saskatchewan hospitals.
After the NDP grilled the government on wait times after a woman reportedly spent five days in a hallway receiving treatment at Pasqua Hospital, the Rosetown-Elrose MLA mentioned how they are committed to reducing those numbers with initiatives such as adding 24 beds to Pasqua Hospital over the summer.
Reiter’s concerned after hearing about the hallway treatment story, but he added that hospitals are experiencing a spike in traffic they weren’t anticipating.
“At this time last year this wasn’t an issue. It flares up and gets better,” explained the health minister. “I’m told this is not unique and that it happens in emergency rooms everywhere.”
Reiter added that an ageing demographic in the province could be another challenging factor in reducing hospital wait times.
He has asked the Saskatchewan Health Authority to review reasons why hospitals are experiencing these recent pressures.
Concerns with Regina Bypass
Regina Bypass critic Cathy Sproule believes the celebration of the project’s completion was “a lot of fanfare for one of the most expensive pieces of roadwork on flat ground the country has ever seen”.
She discussed the matter at question period on Monday after a ceremony was held at the Regina Bypass for its grand opening that morning.
Sproule said current and future taxpayers will have to bear the burden of paying for a project with extraordinary costs. Another problem she mentioned is the maintenance costs for the bypass.
“If you look at the cost of maintenance for the bypass compared to the maintenance treatment that important highways are getting, it’s going to get special treatment for many decades,” she noted. “I don’t think that’s fair to all the railroads and other highways in Saskatchewan.”
The NDP has stated that items such as maintenance, operations and snow removal will be performed by a private conglomerate for the next 30 years.
When asked about the government using safety as a major reason behind the construction of the transportation infrastructure, Sproule responded by saying safety has been an issue their party has called for in the past. “Clearly that was required and it’s something the NDP has asked for.”
On the other side of things, Premier Scott Moe feels this is a good investment to expand the province’s economy and to provide safety for drivers, despite the project growing from the initial proposal of $400 million to $1.88 billion.
“There are always questions with respect to where it is, how large it is, how it is financed. But we have a good process that we put forward with SaskBuilds where we do a value-for-money audit on any of our infrastructure projects.”
He indicated that the government was able to save taxpayers just under $400 million through the P3 partnership since the project qualified as a P3 public-private partnership.