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NDP leader visits Yorkton to inform of healthcare disruptions

Said 37 centres across the province are experiencing disruptions.

YORKTON – Saskatchewan New Democratic Party leader and Regina-Lakeview MLA Carla Beck made a stop in Yorkton on Wednesday afternoon to talk about service disruptions among healthcare centres in the province.

Beck addressed members of the press outside of the Yorkton Regional Health Centre.

"Right now, about 37 centres are seeing service disruptions," said Beck, adding, "we've got the microbiology lab that's been shuttered here for a year."

The visit was part of a tour that saw the NDP leader make several stops at different east-central healthcare centres including Melville, Kamsack and Canora.

Beck said that the purpose of the tour was to draw attention to the "domino effect" the service disruptions cause.

"You have centres around, be it Melville, or Canora or Kamsack – closed – folks have to get in the car and go down the highway to places like Yorkton that are already struggling with some of the same issues; under staffing, over-capacity – and those impacts just keep going down the line."

"It's time that we do something about it – we hear from healthcare workers that they're feeling demoralized – that they're tired of working short and that they feel like there's no light at the end of the tunnel," said Beck.

"This is the job of leaders to show – not only that they recognize that there is an issue – but that they get to work and actually start finding some of those solutions," said Beck.

Beck went on to list some of the concerns her party has heard from the public and from healthcare workers.

"Concerns about wait times – ER wait times right across the province is something that we have seen increase, workers continuously working short, lack of access to some of the basics like lab services – for example – used to be able to be taken and processed right here in Yorkton – those samples now need to go to Regina," said Beck.

"The closures that we're seeing right now are not because of a lack of facilities – they're because of a lack of staff – and that really needs to be addressed in an urgent way," said Beck, adding, "we have mayors and councils, community members, healthcare workers – all sounding the alarm."

Beck said the current state of healthcare in Saskatchewan needs the attention of leaders.

"This is a system that is in crisis and needs attention – it doesn't need pointing of fingers, it doesn't need political messaging, it needs leaders to get to the table and work with those on the front line – work with those who know in these communities – and find those solutions."

Beck offered ideas for solutions to the current shortage of healthcare workers.

"One of the biggest things that we've been hearing is the lack of availability of permanent full-time positions – so if you're going to attract healthcare workers to any centre – but particularly asking people to move or move from location to location – that's really difficult to do when what's posted are less than full-time term positions," said Beck.

"We need a coordinated healthcare retention and recruitment plan in this province and that has to be built with communities, with front line workers – and again – has to be met with a kind of urgency that people are feeling," said Beck.

Beck reiterated how the closure of one healthcare centre can have a negative effect on the surrounding area.

"We have 37 different facilities in the province right now that have service even if Yorkton right now – other than lab services – doesn't have disruptions, there's still impact to the people of this community...because there are closures and service disruptions right around the area," said Beck.

Beck said that healthcare workers and communities need a willing partner in the provincial government to enact solutions capable of dealing with the current issues.

"Some of these solutions come without a lot of additional cost, some of them may require some expenditures, but again – we have a government that's sitting on record windfall royalties – this is about choices and right now the government is choosing not to address this issue – not to find those solutions, and it's simply unacceptable."

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