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Letter to the Editor: Health care in Saskatchewan

A letter to the editor from Fran Millar.
Letter to editor Getty
Letter to the Editor. Getty images

Many of the shortfalls within the health care system have been in the news for months now.  I am writing this in an attempt to give one perspective on the “health of the health care system."

Both the federal and provincial governments (at least most of them) function with a capitalistic view.  There are definitely some positive initiatives that come from capitalism, but the list of shortfalls is much larger.  Markets can be manipulated and it allows (through that manipulation) for some corruption within the system.

 As it pertains to the health care system, there is no guarantee that a person's basic needs will be met.  Health care may become available only to those who are willing to pay for it and skip the waiting lists.

The capitalistic approach is already embedded within the Saskatchewan health care system.  Because our government pays for our health care with our tax dollars, many of us don't even question where the money is going.  Money that was spent to sustain our hospitals with adequate staff and equipment is now going into the profit of private clinics.

Let's take a closer look at the slow progression of transfer to a for-profit system.  This is not a criticism of those who took part in developing and opening labs and other clinics outside of the hospital setting, mainly I'm referring to the ones that do offer a two-tier system (if you pay, you'll get treated sooner).  Rather it is a criticism of the capitalistic government's approach to health care.

I am concerned about my recurring thought that the ultimate goal is to close all hospitals across Saskatchewan except those in the cities with a population larger than 50,000 people.  We have already seen this occur across rural Saskatchewan.  Even the New Democratic government closed hospitals.  This, however, was directly related to the declining rural population and the fiscal disaster left by the Devine Conservative government.  

We also see that acute care beds are available in communities but that is only a band aide solution.  

The emotional and financial expense for any family who must travel miles to get essential medical care can be overwhelming.  If you think I'm wrong, then first take a look at Moose Jaw.  We used to have two hospitals here.  Now we only have one (albeit a new one) with less than half the beds that once were available.  Even at half the size, our hospital is not fully staffed, and retaining nurses / doctors / diagnostic / technical and support staff has become difficult.

The pandemic has exposed a lot of weakness in our health care systems right across Canada.  This is where my beef with the media comes in.  News reports are filled with stories about staff becoming overwhelmed by the workload caused by the pandemic.  

The burn out of both doctors and nurses is always highlighted.  There is very little coverage given to the long hours due to shortage of staff prior to the pandemic. We are bombarded day and night with stories of emergency rooms closing due to lack of staff.  This constant bombardment of the facts overwhelms the population.  

When governments come up with new “for profit” proposal they want us to “just go along with it”.  

Look at the new private “for profit” surgery clinic in Regina that the Sask. Party has now proposed to alleviate surgical back log.

BUT!!! ... The shortage of staff and availability of beds has been created by the funnelling of money into the private “for profit” industry.  

What we have to do is follow the money.  What do I mean?  If you go to the hospital for lab work, to the ER or for and MRI (which is under-used at the hospital), CT scan, etc., then the money follows you there.  If you choose a private clinic the money follows you to the private clinics.  

Money that can be used for hospital improvements and hiring staff is simply funnelled into profit for the private clinics.

We need to stop the bleeding from our hospitals.  The agenda of the Sask. Party has been exposed through the pandemic.  There is another solution out there, and that is we insist on investing in our hospitals now!

Fran Millar  

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.   

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