Instead of cutting waste to deal with its deficit, the Sask. Party is cutting millions of dollars out of health care, eliminating jobs and slashing the number of surgeries that will be done this year.
In the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region (RQHR) alone, the government is cutting $8 million of costs by reducing surgeries and almost $13 million in salaries by eliminating 152 full-time jobs.
In total, $38.3 million is being cut in RQHR alone this year.
“There’s a real disconnect between people’s priorities and this government’s choices,” said NDP Leader Cam Broten, who raised the cuts in the legislature’s question period on Thursday. “There are no reductions to the Sask. Party’s toxic, ongoing John Black Lean program, or to any of their 14 Kaizen Promotion Offices. But there are cuts that mean patients will wait longer in emergency rooms, wait longer for a health care worker to be at their bedside, and wait longer for surgery.”
The $8-million reduction in surgeries comes despite a growing need. Information showing a higher need for surgeries, as well as details of the cuts in Regina and area, come from internal government documents.
“This government has had almost a decade of record revenues. They should have built the strongest health care system Saskatchewan has ever had,” said Broten. “Instead, patients wait hours in emergency room line-ups and almost a year to see a specialist. People are frustrated because access to the long-term care space they want or the family doctor they need is just not there.
“It’s unacceptable that Saskatchewan is covered in deficit red-ink after years of unprecedented prosperity. But it’s waste that got the Sask. Party to this point, and it should be waste they cut now – not surgeries and health care jobs.”
Broten pointed to billions in waste he’d like to see tackled instead of cutting in our hospitals and care facilities, including the Sask. Party’s 228 per cent increase in the use of private consultants; the scores of people hired in health care to manage the John Black Lean program; the entire P3-promotion ministry, SaskBuilds; and ballooning costs on the Regina bypass rent-to-own scheme, that has increased from $400 million to $2 billion.
Other health regions are in cutback situations similar to Regina with many facing deficits at budget time. For example, the Saskatoon Health Region is looking for $41.6 million in cuts to fill in a deficit this year.