Healthcare System is in Freefall

Dear Fellow Greens,

Our Healthcare System in Saskatchewan is in freefall. It has reached an absolute crisis point because the SaskParty is allowing it to crumble, on purpose, to pave the way for more private healthcare. They have always favoured moving anything they can currently in the public system over to privately run options.


Our Emergency Rooms in Saskatoon have been forced to introduce emergency shutdowns. Province-wide, Saskatchewan ERs are collapsing. The safety of care is severely compromised.  The expectation that people will have a family doctor is a pipe dream for many.  We keep losing doctors and nurses; our province must step up and implement effective methods of retaining these professionals. Wait times for appointments and surgeries keep getting longer. It’s not too late to change these trends, but it will take a change in government!

The entire planet just went through a global pandemic. We saw that Saskatchewan is nowhere near ready in terms of emergency medical preparedness.

We must:

  • Refund rural hospitals and healthcare;
  • Stop centralizing everything;
  • Build a system that actually supports our large rural population and helps rural people stay in their home communities when experiencing medical issues and/or old age. Right now we aren’t even close to that.

Saskatchewan could make a deal with the federal government for more healthcare funding, as Manitoba has recently done. The reason the SaskParty isn’t doing that is the federal government wants guarantees that the funds will be used as intended, for healthcare. The needs of our residents must be put ahead of the political ego. On health funding, we are once more getting gaslit by our premier.

The Saskatchewan Greens see rebuilding and properly funding our healthcare system as one of the top issues affecting everyone in our province right now. We need to build a system that supports people before they're in crisis or seriously ill. We need sustainable Healthcare planning now.



Naomi Hunter
Leader of the Saskatchewan Green Party

Showing 5 reactions

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  • Dale Dewar
    Jeffrey, you are quite correct. It is rare to recruit from the city to the country, although it does happen. One of the myths that urbanites have, however, is that all rural people want to live in cities. What is very common in communities that have facilities is that they recruit from their own high school grads. The jobs in lab and x-ray, nursing and long-term care are seen as a possible career choices. Almost all the staff with whom I worked for over thirty years were from the community or married into the community. Even one of the other doctors.

    I find that is mostly true for the seven communities in which I’ve worked recently. I don’t think any of these would prefer to work in the city.
  • Jeffrey Smith
    Fair enough, I’ll cede that rural care may be better for patients and their families and may lead to better health outcomes. My concern is staffing. Adding more care facilities will only increase the demand for healthcare professionals at a time when the healthcare sector is facing serious labour challenges. I think that it would be naive to think that healthcare professionals are going to chose to settle in rural areas.
  • Dale Dewar
    Jeffry, I disagree with you. I have worked as a physician in rural Saskatchewan for almost forty years with brief ventures into city life as a member of the Department of Family Medicine at the U of S. I recently started life as a rural locum for those doctors who wanted a holiday (different communities, one week/month).

    I’m glad that we have specialty services in the cities but the costs to rural people of traveling back and forth for five minute appointments is staggering. Defunding minor surgery (largely by replacing perfectly good equipment with disposables), centralizing obstetrics, and so on means that the rural people bear far more of the costs of health care and crowds urban emergency rooms. Some rural hospitals and urban specialists recognize the value of transferring patients back to their home hospital for continuing care to discharge means that urban beds are freed. This function of rural hospitals is less utilized that it should be – could it be the income for the physician generated by having patients in hospitals means less transfers? Centralizing emergency means for rural people two to four hour travels for emergencies including sick kids and accidents. Do you really want a three hour wait in an urban ER over an almost-no-wait in a rural one?

    Is there “economies of scale”? Everything seems to take longer to turn over in large urban hospitals and if there is such a thing as economy of scale it is threatened by the increasing bureaucracy that comes with size.

    I could write an essay on this topic but I’ll close by saying that, although I don’t have the numbers at hand, I recall rural people put less of a drain on health care spending than urbanites. (We have a narrower band of services too.)

    I am willing to “live at risk” knowing that my “golden hour” is much longer than that because of my choice of location but I’m not willing to have my neighbours and friends do without health care services.

    Centralize what makes sense; service what needs to be serviced.
  • Jeffrey Smith
    I’m sorry but while a policy platform that favors increases in healthcare spending is laudable, directing those funds to the refunding of rural hospitals will only exacerbate the challenges of too little money and not enough healthcare professionals. Adding more facilities to staff will only make the staffing shortage problem worse. Additionally, while centralization of services is a pain it does lead to economies of scale and should normally results in lower healthcare spending overall (centralization of services is unavoidable).

    To be relevant, the Greens must form a strategic alliance with the NDP and the Progressive party and only agree to only offer one left leading candidate in each provincial riding. Splitting the left vote just plays into the Sask Party’s hand.
  • Mike Hamm