NDP Leader Ryan Meili raised questions today about a memo from the Saskatchewan Health Authority instructing frontline workers not to speak publicly about problems in health care in response to “a number of instances of challenging that have not met communication standards.” 

The memo, obtained through an FOI request, instructed Saskatchewan doctors to stop advocating for patients or even communicating with their licensing body without SHA approval, and to edit controversial issues from meeting minutes “if you do not want to see it in the newspaper.” 

“For months we’ve heard concerns from frontline health care workers that conditions in our hospitals are letting people down, but they are afraid to speak publicly,” said NDP Leader Ryan Meili. “Now we know why — the government is actively discouraging health care workers from advocating for patients.”

According to the memo, “Physician leaders have communicated directly with external agencies [including the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan]… This has led to discordant messaging.”

“Advocating for patients is at the heart of a doctor’s work,” said Meili. “Once again, we see this government putting their political interests ahead of the people of this province, this time by telling doctors and nurses not to advocate for their patients.”

The memo was dated September 24, 2019, one month after the SHA issued, and then withdrew, a tender for a snitch hotline to facilitate public complaints about frontline health care workers. 

“Coming in the midst of understaffing and ‘extreme overcapacity’ in ERs, this memo is an insult to the frontline health care workers who are holding the system together. We're calling on the Premier today to state unequivocally that frontline health care workers are the solution to problems in our health care, and should be listened to, not silenced. 

“Scott Moe is letting people down. He needs to make clear that health care workers can and must continue to advocate for patients and for the resources they need to do their jobs.”