Broten blasts premier's two-tier health care proposal

Government’s plan to allow some to queue-jump will leave most waiting longer for surgery

The NDP is sharply criticizing the premier's proposal to fast-track MRIs for those who can afford to pay extra because it will leave everyone else waiting even longer for their surgeries.

The premier's proposal goes well beyond the private care providers currently operating within the publicly funded system. Premier Brad Wall said Thursday he wants a separate diagnostic stream for the wealthy, in which access to expensive MRIs is determined by people's ability to pay rather than by a doctor's assessment of medical need.

“Saskatchewan families don't want two-tier health care, where you gain access to diagnosis and treatment with a credit card instead of your health card,” said NDP Leader Cam Broten. “The reality is that Mr. Wall can create two line-ups for MRIs, but there’s still only one line-up for surgeries. Patients who need surgery but can’t afford to buy an expensive, private MRI will wait even longer while patients who can afford a quick, but expensive MRI get on the surgery list ahead of them. That’s just wrong.”

“The status quo is absolutely not acceptable – wait times are far too long. But I want wait times for MRIs, specialists and surgeries improved for everyone in the province, not just for the select few who can afford it.”

Read more

NDP questions why government is establishing a politics museum

The government is quietly developing a plan for a Saskatchewan Museum on Democracy – a plan the NDP said is another example of the government’s obsession with pet projects, and its failure to use taxpayer dollars in the smartest way.

The development of the politics museum is the most significant item in the job description of senior government official Rick Mantey, according to information the NDP obtained through access to information laws.

“This government keeps getting sidetracked by shiny pet projects and it keeps ignoring what really matters to Saskatchewan families,” said NDP Leader Cam Broten. “Our hospitals are understaffed, filthy and horribly backlogged. Our schools and classrooms are overcrowded and under-resourced. For some reason, this government just can't get the job done on the stuff that really matters, but it's choosing to pursue yet another pet project."

Read more

Time for government to release travel expenses, says NDP

The NDP is reminding the government that Saskatchewan people want to see all ministerial travel expenses, along with the expenses of entourages that travel with ministers, posted online starting this month.

The call for expenses to be posted online came after the NDP revealed then-minister of Social Services June Draude took a trip with a friend as well as a member of her family on the taxpayers’ tab. Draude and her companions visited another friend in Ghana, then travelled to London. Minimal government business was arranged to justify the trips, but Draude billed taxpayers for a chauffeured limo that was, in part, used for sightseeing in London, as well as a high-end luxury hotel for the three. Draude has repayed a small portion of the $19,000 cost for that trip.

Read more

NDP opposes government’s pricey scheme to contract out photo radar policing to Xerox

The government is planning to give Xerox $4.5 million over just two years to run eight photo radar traps in Saskatchewan – a scheme the NDP says is too expensive, and doesn’t make sense.

Under the government’s plan, employees of Xerox in Edmonton will review images from photo radar cameras in Saskatchewan, and Xerox employees will issue speeding tickets to Saskatchewan drivers on behalf of the police. For each of the eight cameras, Saskatchewan will give Xerox more than a half-million dollars.

“The government’s plan just doesn’t make sense,” said NDP Deputy Leader Trent Wotherspoon. “For $4.5 million dollars, this government could hire more than 40 new police officers. Instead, they’re going to use that money to have a Xerox employee in Edmonton look over photo radar images and issue tickets to Saskatchewan drivers.”

Read more

Stats Can shows continued health care and social services job cuts

There are 4,300 fewer health care and social services workers employed in Saskatchewan compared to one year earlier, while health care facilities have been growing increasingly crowded, dirty and backlogged.

The continued cuts to jobs in the health care and social services sector, including another 500 jobs lost last month, were revealed Friday in the Labour Force Survey from Statistics Canada. The update shows Saskatchewan’s natural resources and hard-working people are delivering very strong employment results, but the government is going in the wrong direction when it comes to health care.

“The hours-long emergency room waits, filthy dirty conditions and people lying in a seniors care bed or hospital bed with painfully long stretches before a health care worker comes in to deliver basic care – these are all symptoms of understaffing, and it has to stop,” said NDP Deputy Leader Trent Wotherspoon.  “This government is obsessed with consultants and managers, including its $40 million American Lean consultant. It’s completely ignoring the basics in health care.”

Read more