Scott Moe’s Sask. Party government closed services at 53 hospitals

Moe gov’t withholds complete hospital data for 11 months until Privacy Commissioner stepped in 

*Data on 50 of the 53 hospitals can be accessed here. Note that the Moe government returned a list of 53 hospitals in response to the first FOI (see attached) but failed to provide data on all 53 in the second FOI. 

REGINA - Today, Official Opposition Leader Carla Beck and Rural and Remote Health Critic Matt Love responded to new SHA data. The data reveals that the Moe government has closed services at a minimum of 53 hospitals since 2019. Ethics and Democracy Critic Meara Conway also blasted the Moe government for withholding this information for nearly a year until the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner got involved. 

“Saskatchewan people expect their leaders to get the basics right, like ensuring healthcare is available when and where you need it,” said Beck. “I just don’t know how this Premier justifies blowing millions on pet projects and expensive international trips when our hospitals don’t have staff to keep the doors open. With our resource wealth, there’s no reason our hospitals can’t be world-leading again.”

SHA data obtained through a freedom of information request indicates that the Moe government closed services at 53 different hospitals between August of 2019 and July of 2023. 

At these 53 hospitals, there were at least 951 distinct closures to emergency rooms, hospital laboratories, surgical theaters, or other departments. That equates to one new service closure every day and a half. These service closures worsened dramatically in 2022 and are projected to have worsened further in 2023.

Emergency rooms are being hit the hardest, with 407 distinct closures amounting to 3,029 lost days, or a little over 8 lost years of emergency room care. 

Basic radiography and laboratory services are also being severely impacted, with 278 distinct closures amounting to 1,900 lost days when Saskatchewan people could not get basic tests at their local hospitals.

“I can’t think of any industry where someone could fail so badly, take no responsibility for their failures, and still have a job,” said Love. “Moe and his ministers keep saying they’re working on it. They’ve been in the top job for 16 years. What have they been doing?”

For nearly a year, the Moe government delayed and fought to limit the Opposition’s access to data on the 53 hospital closures. Here’s what the Opposition’s emails and filed documents show:

  • February 14, 2023 – Opposition staff submit an access request for “a table or spreadsheet listing hospitals that have had service disruptions (transition to alternate level of care, permanent closures and staffing related disruptions) for longer than 24 hrs since August 1, 2019.”
  • July 5, 2023 – The Moe government, according to the timelines required by law, responds six months late, and only with a list of 53 hospitals that had closures during the time period – no description of how long the closures lasted or what services were disrupted.
  • July 10, 2023 – The Opposition is forced to submit a new access request, which is formally filed again on August 16 after price negotiations.
  • September 18, 2023 – The Moe government extends the deadline to respond to the FOI by 30 days.
  • November 24, 2023 –  After the Moe government fails to respond to the request according to the timelines required by law, the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner emails the Moe government requesting that they respond to the Opposition’s request by December 1, 2023.
  • December 8, 2023 – The Moe government provides its response to the Opposition’s access request one day after the session ends and provides details for 50 of the 53 hospitals.

“We’ve been trying to access this information since February, and it’s December. This is a government that’s allergic to transparency,” said Conway. “Premier Moe needs to be straight with the people of Saskatchewan. Knowing whether your local emergency room is open or closed could be the difference between life and death.

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Dear Moose Jaw Residents,

We hope this message finds you well. As a part of our ongoing commitment to listening to local voices and building made-in-Saskatchewan solutions, we are pleased to invite you to our upcoming Townhall Meeting in Moose Jaw on February 29 at the Timothy Eaton Centre from 7:00PM to 9:00PM.

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