‘Move the ball, not the goal posts’: NDP call for more than targets to address increasing ER waits

With more and more people waiting longer in emergency rooms around the province and the Sask. Party government repeatedly downgrading its targets, the NDP is calling for concrete action to finally address the issue.

“Longer emergency wait times means real suffering for Saskatchewan people, and instead of redoubling their effort to meet their targets, they just keep changing their targets,” said NDP Leader Ryan Meili. “When it comes to addressing the unacceptably long wait times that people with emergencies are facing, we need a government that’s able to move the ball, not the goal posts.”

According to statistics tabled by the Ministry of Health, the time to see a doctor, get a bed, and the length of stay have all increased from 2017-18 to 2018-19, with average wait times to see a doctor now over three hours in Prince Albert as well as Saskatoon, and nearly five hours in Regina. The length of stay in the ER is up as well: on average people are spending more than a day, and in Saskatoon it’s closer to two.

As wait times worsen, the government’s targets have softened and even disappeared. First the Sask. Party government walked back a promise to end emergency room wait times, then commitment to cut wait times by 60 per cent by 2019, then downgraded that commitment to 35 per cent, then eliminated the target altogether.

“This government’s failure to deliver is hurting Saskatchewan people, and they just keep changing their story to cover their tracks,” NDP Health Critic Vicki Mowat said. “Meanwhile, people are waiting for hours to be seen by a doctor, and those consultations are increasingly happening in hallways and converted closets. We need to see some actual, meaningful improvements to emergency room care.”