NDP Health Critic Vicki Mowat questioned Health Minister Jim Reiter today about his decision to cancel the pandemic contracts with family doctors without notice or consultation.

“This pandemic has exposed the strains and pressures on our already-stretched healthcare system, particularly in rural Saskatchewan, where this government has struggled for years to keep emergency rooms open and keep doctors in rural communities,” said Mowat.

The Saskatchewan NDP has obtained a letter from Saskatchewan’s family doctors. Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA) Family Practice Board Chair, Dr. Carla Holinaty, and Family Practice Board President, Dr. Stan Oleksinski, wrote to their colleagues, “We were disappointed to learn that the SHA [Saskatchewan Health Authority] decided to cancel the pandemic contracts. It was disheartening to learn that SMA was left out of the decision-making process.”

Dr. Stephanie Nyberg, a family doctor in Melfort, says this snap decision puts quality rural healthcare at risk for practices like hers.

“I’m most concerned about my patients and how the cancellation of this contract without any plan to support the safe reopening of clinics will impact them,” said Nyberg. “It leaves offices like mine facing a significant burden as we work to reopen safely, and frankly makes it harder for family doctors to practice in rural Saskatchewan.”

Mowat called on the Minister to undertake good-faith negotiations with Saskatchewan healthcare professionals over how to safely manage the reopening of our healthcare system as we continue to navigate the risks of the pandemic.

“This Minister cancelled the province’s pandemic contracts with no notice and no consultation, jeopardizing the delivery of quality healthcare, particularly in rural Saskatchewan, when we need it most,” said Mowat. “The Sask. Party needs to stop governing by cuts and by stealth, and actually sit down with healthcare professionals about how to keep people safe while making them well.”