Sask’s doctors strongly oppose Sask. Party user-pay MRI plan

NDP wants two-tier MRI legislation shelved, not proclaimed

The Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA), which represents 90 per cent of the province's physicians, is strongly opposed to the Sask. Party's user-pay, two-tier MRI plan.

An internal memo says senior SMA leadership met with the health minister at the end of October to warn him about this "hasty policy."

The doctors’ memo reads: "We expressed strong opposition to Bill 179 that provides for private MRI facilities. We stressed that the SMA advocates for and supports the concept of a strong publicly funded health care system where access to medical care is based on need and not the ability to pay. This new legislation runs contrary to this fundamental principle of medicare."

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$150M in sketchy “risk” needed to prop up rent-a-schools

P3 schools to be built based on controversial John Black Lean

Building and owning schools the straightforward way would save $50 million according to the government’s own numbers. But in order to justify using a pricey P3 rent-a-school scheme, a government report released Monday tacks $150 million in “risk” to its calculation on the cost of public schools.

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Call bells in seniors care homes out-of-date, ineffective

A new report from Saskatchewan’s Provincial Auditor addresses concerns about seniors in care homes suffering falls – and raises the alarm about life-saving call-bell systems that don’t work.

According to an audit released Tuesday, “discussions with management indicated the call bell systems in a number of long-term care facilities were outdated presenting limitations in their effectiveness.” There are plans to repair some “as finances allow.”

The audit looked only at the Prairie North Health Region, but NDP Health critic Danielle Chartier said it echoes a big red flag raised by recently released reports from CEO tours of seniors care homes.

“Call bells are a lifeline,” said Chartier. “Sometimes it’s for help to the bathroom and sometimes it’s a very serious medical emergency. When a senior pushes their call button, they deserve to know that help is on the way, fast. But what we saw come up again and again in the CEO tour reports is not only that call bells weren’t able to be answered in a timely fashion – in far too many cases, they actually weren’t working at all. This is a major infrastructure issue that should be a top priority.”

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Sask. Party’s highway repair priorities don’t add up

Sask. Party ignores safety priority list when deciding which roads get work, which get ignored

When it comes to which highways get repaired, the Sask. Party is ignoring the safety priorities list and picking and choosing which highways to fix.

According to a report released by the province’s independent Provincial Auditor on Tuesday, higher priorities within the Safety Improvement Program (SIP) are being passed over in favour of doing projects that pose less of a safety concern – and the Sask. Party can’t explain why.

Of the 15 highways projects the Sask. Party plans to do in 2015-16, five were not even on the safety priority list, and six ranked lower than 50 out of 100 on the scale of safety concerns. Meanwhile, many projects with safety concern rankings over 50 are going ignored. 

“The Ministry was unable to provide us with its supporting analysis or rationale for selecting some of these projects included in the plan, over those with higher priority scores,” reported the auditor.

NDP Highways critic Buckley Belanger said the Sask. Party owes people an explanation.

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Despite huge spending, Lean program results not tracked

The Sask. Party government has spent a massive amount of money and staff time on the controversial John Black Lean program, but according to a new audit, it isn’t even tracking the results.

The NDP says it looks like the Sask. Party is blindly committed to the controversial Lean program.

“The Sask. Party drank the John Black Lean Kool-Aid, and now there isn’t a Lean program cheque it won’t sign – despite the fact that, apparently, they don’t know what they’re getting for the money,” said Warren McCall, the NDP critic for the Lean initiative.

The report, released Monday by Saskatchewan’s independent Provincial Auditor, concludes that the Sask. Party is now using Lean in 19 ministries and agencies, four post-secondary schools and 28 school divisions.

However, “they did not identify or gather sufficient information to enable them to assess the overall success of the use of Lean.”

The auditor points to hundreds of Lean events, continued use of Lean consultants and 5,000 days of staff time spent on Lean, but no overall results recorded.

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