Healthcare in rural Saskatchewan flatlining as Sask. Party’s recruitment efforts fail

A third of Duck Lake’s LTC beds closed, majority of residents go without a family doctor 

REGINA – The Official Opposition was joined at the Legislature by a delegation of concerned community and health leaders, including Duck Lake Mayor Bonnie Guigon, Duck Lake Reeve Remi Martin, Beardy’s & Okemasis’ Cree Nation Chief Edwin Ananas, Councilor Warren Seesequasis, Duck Lake and District Nursing Home Chair Ray Gauthier, Willow Cree Health Services Director Carla Seeseequasis and Primary Health Coordinator Shasha Abdulnour. Together, they condemned the Sask. Party government’s failed healthcare plan.

“Scott Moe is driving healthcare workers out of the province. We’re losing doctors, we’re losing nurses, and the Sask. Party won’t even admit that their staffing plan has failed. They’re ignoring local voices on the ground,” said Carla Beck, Leader of the Official Opposition. “Healthcare is the heart of every community. Residents shouldn’t have to drive hours, only to be turned away because the ER in the next community is also closed. It’s time for a government that will treat this like the crisis it truly is.”

Last summer, Willow Cree Health Services at Beardy’s lost their family doctor. Since then, 1,000 of out 1,600 people living on the reserve do not have access to a family doctor, forcing many to travel to clinics or the emergency room in Rosthern, which has experienced multiple closures in recent months.

The Opioid Agonist Therapy program abruptly stopped with the departure of Beardy’s family doctor. Without this important service, a number of community members have fallen back into active drug use.

Eight beds in Duck Lake’s nursing home, or a third of total capacity, are also closed due to the lack of doctors. 

“Every day this spring, the Sask. Party has patted themselves on the back saying what a great job they’re doing in healthcare. They’re completely out of touch with the reality facing rural communities,” said Jared Clarke, Opposition Critic for Rural and Remote Health. “Folks should be able to access healthcare when and where they need it. We need a real plan that works with communities to meet their local needs. Unfortunately, Scott Moe and the Sask. Party just aren’t listening.”

News of doctor shortages comes as the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses releases the results of their latest members’ survey. 85% of Saskatchewan nurses say short staffing is putting patients at risk, and 58% say they are thinking about leaving Saskatchewan’s healthcare system altogether. 

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