Woman with breast cancer symptoms waiting nearly a year for diagnostic care

Minister says avg. wait 10 weeks, woman with breast cancer symptoms says 10 months

REGINA - Today, Official Opposition Leader Carla Beck and Health Critic Vicki Mowat blasted Scott Moe and the Sask. Party government for failing Saskatchewan women. Together they stood with Nadine Baker, a woman with breast cancer symptoms who continues to wait almost a year for diagnostic care.

“Scott Moe has failed Nadine and countless other women. He’s broken our healthcare system and can’t be trusted to fix it,” said Beck. “Saskatchewan is the birthplace of Canadian-style healthcare. Good cancer care here at home should not be too much to ask for. Nearly every family in Saskatchewan has been impacted in some way by cancer.”

Nadine, 61, is at risk of breast cancer and does everything she can to obtain regular screenings. In March 2023, Nadine’s family doctor submitted a referral for diagnostic care after she began experiencing symptoms of breast cancer. Nadine did not receive an appointment or any update for 42 weeks. On January 5, 2024, she finally received a phone call indicating that there were still no appointments available, unless she was willing to travel to another community or out-of-province. Nadine agreed but continues to wait anxiously for an appointment or any further details.

Nadine told reporters that she is especially angry about recent comments made by Moe’s Health Minister. Last month, Hindley said that the target wait time for breast cancer screenings is three weeks, but that most women are waiting an average of ten weeks. Nadine has been waiting for ten months and counting.

“The difference between ten weeks and ten months can mean life and death,” said Mowat. “The Moe government has no excuse to be offering less and less services when other provinces like Ontario are expanding screenings for breast cancer and lowering the minimum age for self-referred screenings. The way Moe and his ministers make excuse after excuse, you’d think healthcare wasn’t a provincial responsibility.”

In Saskatchewan, the number of mammograms performed each year has been trending downwards since well before the pandemic. Last year, 10,000 fewer mammograms were performed in Saskatchewan compared to 2017, according to Sask Cancer Agency Annual Reports. 

When Scott Moe came to power in 2018, Regina had seven doctors performing surgeries for breast cancer patients. Today the figure is three. Radiologists are in short supply. The Regina Breast Assessment Centre only has a radiologist three days a week, and no patients are seen on Mondays and Fridays. 

The Moe government’s decision to send women needing diagnostic care to Calgary-based Sask. Party donor Clearpoint has also raised alarm bells. Clearpoint is charging Saskatchewan women a flat rate of $2,000, while private clinics in Ontario and British Columbia charge between $140 and $430 for mammograms. Mammograms are performed in Saskatchewan’s public health system for a tenth of Clearpoint’s cost.    

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