Anti-bullying GSA bill receives second reading

NDP bill would require gay-straight alliances where a student requests one

An NDP bill that would require all publicly funded schools to help a student form a gay-straight alliance (GSA) where one is requested took another step forward in the legislative assembly Thursday.

“We’re calling on the government to get on board with this bill – it really is the right thing to do,” said David Forbes, the NDP critic for diversity, equality and human rights. “We know that having a GSA in a school reduces bullying and suicide attempts for both gay and straight students because it really creates a better school environment for everyone. Why the Sask. Party is resisting that is beyond me.”

The bill, The Respect for Diversity – Student Bill of Rights Act, received second reading in the legislature on Thursday, moved by the NDP.

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Wait times to see a specialist way up, despite premier's commitment

Brad Wall promised seven-day max waits, but grew waits to over 300-day average

The average wait for a medical specialist appointment has increased to 326 days in Saskatoon and 294 days in Regina, nearly 50 per cent longer than just a year ago.

The much-longer waits are happening despite a pledge from Brad Wall in 2012 that no patient would wait longer than seven days for a specialist appointment.

“These numbers match what I’m hearing from frustrated families,” said NDP Leader Cam Broten, who questioned Wall on growing specialist wait times on Thursday.

“In 2013, most patients waited less than three months. That was too long, and the province needed to do better. But instead of the better access they were promised, patients are now waiting an average of 10 or 11 months. That’s 11 months of pain. That’s 11 months of anxiety and stress. And that’s 11 months in which a disease can get a lot worse.”

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Four-year-old boy denied medical treatment because of budget cuts

The family of four-year-old Kayden Kot has been told that a desperately needed treatment won’t be funded by the province, and Kot’s mom Sylvie Fortier-Kot was told the reason is budget cuts.

Over his young life, Kot has experienced serious health challenges, complicated by a medical error. He has needed more than a dozen trips out of province for treatment, only two of which have been covered by the provincial government. Now, the Sask. Party says Kayden can’t return to the Star Center in Denver for his next round of treatment, which would cost just over $14,000.

Fortier-Kot says she’s hit a wall dealing with the government.

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Sask. Party quietly backs away from ER wait times commitment

The Sask. Party has promised repeatedly since 2012 that emergency room wait times would be gone by 2017 – but made no progress on that promise, and has now backed away from the pledge. 

The promise to eliminate ER wait times by 2017 was made in dozens of documents, media releases and interviews. The decision to back away from that goal was just a few lines in the Health Ministry’s annual report.

“There's no question that it was an ambitious commitment, and I don't think most Saskatchewan people would fault the government for falling a bit short of achieving it if we actually saw significant progress toward reducing ER wait times. The problem is that we haven't seen progress. People are waiting far too long in our province's emergency rooms,” said NDP Leader Cam Broten, who raised this issue in the legislature on Tuesday. 

Saskatchewan has stopped reporting its province-wide ER wait times to the Canadian Institute of Health Information. When it last did, Saskatchewan’s wait times had doubled over just three years, hitting an average wait of about 3.5 hours before seeing a doctor in 2013, up from about 1.7 hours in 2010. Current numbers for Regina and Saskatoon’s health authorities show wait times still at about the 3.5-hour mark on average, with waits to see a physician at the Regina General Hospital now 4.4 hours, on average. 

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No explanation for billion-dollar bypass boondoggle

Corporation from France to get millions to plow a few kilometres for the next 30 years

In a technical briefing regarding the Regina bypass, the Sask. Party couldn’t or wouldn’t explain how the price of the Regina Bypass has ballooned by over $1 billion.

The Regina Bypass has gone from $800 million, to $2 billion – not including the price of land – because the government is using a P3 rent-a-road scheme.

A corporation from France will build the bypass, and collect millions every year for the next 30 years in order to “operate” a section of highway, which includes having the corporation from France come in and plow the road.

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