North Battleford Hospital to cost far more as a P3

The Sask. Party believes that having Saskatchewan people be the project managers on the Saskatchewan Hospital at North Battleford is very risky – which is why they’re willing to pay millions more to have a corporation from the United Kingdom manage the building and maintenance.

A government report released Thursday shows that the price of building and handling maintenance of the mental health and corrections facility through straightforward public building and ownership methods is $309 million. The same price via a P3 rent-a-hospital scheme is $363.4 million.

But the Sask. Party then says it estimates that having Saskatchewan people manage the project equates to a whopping $176 million in ‘risk.’ P3 ‘risk’ calculations have been panned by auditors across the country as unjustified, largely made-up numbers to make P3 projects look better than they are and were called “full of assumptions” by Saskatchewan’s own auditor.

Read more

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."

Read more

$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.

Read more

Call bells in seniors care homes out-of-date, ineffective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

Read more

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.

Read more