NDP shares concerns highlighted by auditor

Electronic health records, seniors care home infections, unregulated P3 schemes raise red flags

The NDP shares several serious concerns identified today by independent Provincial Auditor Judy Ferguson – many with a history of being dismissed by the government after red flags have been raised in the past.

eHealth records taking too long, costing too much

Changing the province from paper to a province-wide electronic health records (EHR) system has cost $500 million to date, and it’s still not done.

In 2010, the government created eHealth Saskatchewan to create a province-wide EHR system, building on electronic health records work going back to 1997. Today, the auditor revealed that more than $500 million has been spent on the project – but it’s not ready, and no deadline or budget means Saskatchewan patients don’t know how much longer it will take, or how much more it will cost. 

"Mismanagement and a lack of political leadership has really damaged this process,” said NDP health care critic Danielle Chartier. “Benchmarks, a firm deadline and a solid budget are must-haves that are missing – no government should get away with sloppy, money-wasting leadership like that. The government has been dropping the ball, and patients, doctors and taxpayers are paying the price.”

The future Children's Hospital was initially designed to have only EHR, allocating no space or system for paper files and records, but a redesign of the information flow and record storage is now necessary because the EHR system won't be ready. 

Seniors put at infection risk

The auditor also found that vulnerable seniors in care in an audited health region, Sunrise Health Region, didn't have a reliable enough infection control program. 

The auditor recommends more training. However, the region previously stated in a submission to the government that necessary training, such as training to work with residents with dementia, is not possible because the region is already forced to spend its funds on required training including Kaizen Basics, part of the government’s Lean experiment.

The NDP has repeatedly raised concerns over the last 15 months related to the seniors care crisis, including infection control and hygiene in understaffed, under-resourced care homes.

P3s – still no move to guarantee value, transparency

Despite plowing ahead with a series of public-private partnerships, the government still has no guidelines for how those controversial projects will be run. 

"The official Opposition tried to pass a law to make P3 projects transparent for taxpayers, we've asked for a guarantee that debt will be recorded up front and not hidden and we've asked for a guarantee that each individual P3 project is evaluated independently and reported publicly before contracts are signed to make sure it's cost-effective” said Deputy Leader Trent Wotherspoon, whose private member’s bill The P3 Transparency and Accountability Act was voted down by the government.

“The government refused to agree to basic guidelines for P3s -- insisting on a secretive program with no guidelines, no transparency and no guarantee that these deals won't end up being much more expensive in the long run. We share the auditor’s concerns – at an absolute minimum, there simply have to be rules around this controversial and risky approach to privatizing infrastructure like schools.”

SaskTel International

The NDP is also urging the government to immediately investigate why and how SaskTel International senior management deliberately misled the auditor, manually changing records to provide a false year-end income. 

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For more information, contact:
Erin Morrison, NDP caucus