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A premier's desire to help those in need

For whatever one might want to say about Brad Wall, no on can question his desire to help those truly in need. This has been evident from the very first days of his tenure.

For whatever one might want to say about Brad Wall, no on can question his desire to help those truly in need.

This has been evident from the very first days of his tenure. For example, it was Wall who was the driving force behind the new government's decision to cover Avastin - a life-prolonging medicine for terminal cancer patients that wasn't previously covered under the province's prescription drug.

For as heartless as it might have seemed to force dying cancer patients to pay the complete tab for such a drug, it should be noted that governments with limited resources are often required to make such tough choices. This is why such decisions are taken out of the hands of politicians and given to formulary committees for a more objective analysis.

That Wall would bypass the formulary committee's recommendation says much about his compassionate, although others would argue that it also says much about his willingness to make decisions without perhaps fully appreciating the consequences.

But as heartless as it might seem to say "no", there are countless new drugs developed each year and publicly funding them all would have economic consequences. It's not unreasonable to suggest that one such consequence may be the recent bed closures in Wawota.

With this in mind, it's worth exploring a couple other decisions Wall has recently made that one can also fairly conclude have been driven by his compassion.

The first is to provide funding for clinical tests on the new liberation surgery Multiple Sclerosis sufferers. While this surgery is not available anywhere in Canada, MS sufferers that have spent tens of thousands of dollars out of their own pocket swear the treatment is providing massive relief.

However, the medical community is clearly divided on the benefits of the treatment that largely involves angioplasty to spinal and neck veins. Those skeptical argue that the liberation therapy: is not a cure for MS; that it really only addresses a symptom that may or may not be related to MS, and; that surgery is dangerous and may only provide short-term relief, anyway.

Clearly, Wall's eagerness that Saskatchewan should become the first Canadian jurisdiction to fund clinical trials for this treatment is driven by his desire to do something. That he is has decided to fund just clinical trials (and not the cost of the procedure for everyone) may also suggests that he might have learned something about why the more cautious approach isn't always a bad one.

One wonders whether Wall fully appreciates how very thin line is between creating hope and maybe creating false hope. But many would argue it's hard to fault a politician that sympathizes and acts out of compassion to help those in difficulty.

Another good example ofaddressing those in need is Wall's recently announced improvement in the Provincial Disaster Assistance Program (PDAP) that will lowering the deductible amount for private claimants to five per cent from 20 per cent and will increase maximum amount financial assistance available to $240,000 from $160,000.

Wall's announcement in North Battleford - that recently joined the list of communities ravaged by summer storms that now also includes Carlyle, Radville, Yorkton, Maple Creek and Raymore/Kawakatoose - also increased the maximum assistance to small businesses, non-profit organizations, boards, and primary agricultural enterprises increased to $500,000 from $160,000.

Again, the cold hard reality is that there will be a cost to the provincial treasury this year for these decisions - even if federal cost sharing covers some of the pricetag. Certainly, there will be additional costs for years to come when we are hit with future similar storms.

But those hammered by the devastation of this year's storms now face financial devastation for costs not covered by insurance.

It's tough to criticize a politician that sees people in need and acts to help.

Murray Mandryk has been covering provincial politics for over 15 years.

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