Hospitals and classrooms: NDP continues questioning Sask Party government on ER wait times and class sizes

The provincial opposition is continuing to question the Sask Party government’s record on emergency wait room times.

This comes after the provincial government announced a 10 million dollar investment into reducing surgical wait times Wednesday, but no funding to address ER wait times, which according to the NDP, is leading to hallway medicine.

NDP leader Ryan Meili said Saskatchewan is among the worst in Canada when it comes to emergent care wait times, and only Manitoba is worse in Western Canada.

“Emergency rooms are the canary in the coal mine of the problems in our health system as a whole,” Meili said. “We’ve seen no meaningful action on primary care reform or prevention, we’ve seen no effective action to make sure that patients aren’t stuck in hospitals, that they’re appropriately placed in long-term care or able to get home with home care.”

According to the NDP, three emergency rooms at the Regina General Hospital are actually designated spots in the hallway where patients are treated. Meili also stated there are issues with opioids and mental health, which is leading to longer wait times at the ER.

Health minister Jim Reiter said the province understands there is opioid and mental health problems in Saskatchewan, and their provincial budget started to address that.

“We’ve announced an RFP for 75 new residential support beds for individuals with intensive mental health needs, on the addictions side, just recently an RFP went out on for 50 new pre- and post-addiction treatment beds, we’ve already announced and opened more addictions treatment beds in Indian Head.”

The class size debate also re-entered the Saskatchewan Legislature Wednesday, as the NDP accused the minister of education of ignoring teachers concerns on the matter.

Education critic Carla Beck asked education minister Gord Wyant what he meant when Tuesday, he said composition is a much more important issue than class size.

Wyant said that’s what he’s heard from teachers on the ground when he has done his classroom tours across the province.

“We have children in our classrooms with many complex needs, things that we didn’t experience even five years ago,” Wyant said. “While we’re not going to ignore the issue of class size, there’s certainly going to be an emphasis on composition.”

Wyant adds he’ll be releasing the terms of reference from his consultations with teachers, parents and school board trustees in the coming days.

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