YORKTON - Rural and Remote Health Minister Everett Hindley was in Yorkton last week, and what he had to say on a couple of key local region issues sounded very much like the answers which have been offered for years by the Saskatchewan Party.
In terms of the much-discussed, and much-needed new regional hospital for Yorkton, surprise, surprise, it remains on the government to-do list, but there is no suggestion when a build might start.
Hindley did point to some $200K committed to further planning for the facility. He said the work includes everything from how many beds are ultimately needed, to what services are to be included, to crystal balling what population trends are in the region.
Now there is no denying such work is important, but let’s not forget a plan was created years ago for a new hospital. It was largely locally generated at the request of the province and was ultimately seen as too grandiose by government and was rather quickly shelved.
Of course the problem there was the parameters established by the government before planning started. If you have a budget figure you will not exceed, that needs to be on the table before you start planning.
Since that process local fundraising continued until there was $1 million salted away and the local Health Foundation changed course to fund needed equipment realizing at that point no local hospital build was imminent.
At this point you also need to question how much planning is needed. There has been an announced expansion in Prince Albert and a new build in Weyburn, so a plan should pretty much already exist.
The Saskatchewan Party has focused a lot of its attention on a single health board to streamline services, a big part of which is not overlapping efforts, yet here they are reinventing the hospital plan for Yorkton.
Next up Hindley faced questions about temporary bed closures in Kamsack, which he said were unfortunate but necessary because there were staff shortages.
Staff shortages in health care are a long-term problem, which occur right across Canada, so ultimately the question comes down to what is being done to address the issue?
Hindley said the government is looking at a number of ways to address the issue, including potentially adding more training seats for needed health care professionals.
But, again the government has had years to find workable solutions, and the issue is not going away. For example, lab services in Yorkton transferred to Regina more than a year ago because of staffing issues remains in Regina. Hindley said the plan remains to return services to the city, but no timeframe is in place as staffing remains an issue.
Obviously staffing issues are not easily solved or someone across the country would have found the answer by now, but clearly a few ideas are needed in Saskatchewan soon.