Health care continues to be the focus in 2020 provincial election

For the second day in a row, the provincial election campaign is focused on health care.

The Saskatchewan Party held an event in Regina announcing an expansion of the provincial Insulin Pump Program and covering the cost of the Continuous Glucose Monitoring system for children under the age of 18.

Party leader Scott Moe says the program will now include people of all ages.

“There will be no age restriction at all for this program, everyone who needs an insulin pump is going to get one, and the province is going to cover the cost,” said Moe. “We expect the expansion of this program will benefit about 400 people across the province.”

The current program covers the cost of insulin pumps and supplies for Saskatchewan residents under the age of 25 with Type 1 Diabetes. The Sask. Party estimates eliminating the age restriction would benefit about 400 people in Saskatchewan. The cost of the two programs is expected to cost roughly $4.6 million.

Moe says the programs will improve the quality of life for diabetics in the province.

“We believe that these two measures, an expanded Insulin Pump Program and support for Continuous Glucose Monitoring will make life better for those people, and their families that are living with diabetes,” said Moe. “Both of those measures will improve the quality of life for people living with diabetes, and it will save those individuals, and their families, thousands of dollars each and every year.”

Moe adds that a strong economy is only possible if people can enjoy their lives without the burden of medical expenses.

“A strong economy, strong families, and making life more affordable for people and families that are living with diabetes,” said Moe. “That’s our plan for a strong Saskatchewan.”

The NDP meanwhile promised to build a new surgery and outpatient centre if elected this fall. The new centre would cost $60 million and would be built in Regina to serve southern Saskatchewan.

Ryan Meili, leader of the NDP, announced the proposal Wednesday morning saying the facility would bring down the province’s current record of allowing wait times for surgeries to skyrocket.

“Under the Sask. Party, surgical wait times have been growing at an alarming rate and it has only gotten worse since Scott Moe was made premier,” he stated.

“This centre was badly needed when it was first promised by the Sask. Party in 2012 and is even more necessary now. New Democrats will get the job done.”

Meili said the new facility would lower surgical wait times and reduce pressures on hospital admissions in the province. It would also feature surgical suites, diagnostic imaging, pharmacy services, rehabilitation and outpatient cancer care.

Regina resident Donna Smith joined Meili for his announcement on Wednesday to share her experience of being on a surgical wait list.

Smith explained how she’s someone who keeps active by playing sports including pickleball and floor hockey, and she loves to go for walks. However, she hasn’t had the opportunity to partake in activities as she waits for her surgery and deals with chronic pain.

She said she would benefit from shorter surgical wait times considering she has been on a wait list since June 2019.

“The longer people wait, the more they suffer, the more outcomes can be worse,” told Smith. “It’s past time to put an end to the long wait times that too many people like myself have endured.”

Meili also committed to banning what he calls “American style” healthcare, referencing private MRI clinics where residents pay to conduct MRI procedures faster. Meili said that process has actually doubled MRI wait times.

The existing private clinics would be allowed to operate under his proposed framework.

(With files from Moises Canales and Josh Sigurdson)

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