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Doctor shortages, rat infestations still dominate Leg debate

Daily Leg Update - Opposition NDP continue to hammer away at government on familiar themes.

REGINA - The opposition New Democrats continued to hammer away at the governing Sask Party on Monday on familiar topics, including the shortage of health care workers and issues at Sask Housing.

The government continues to draw opposition fire over the state of Sask Housing stock in the province. The Opposition has pointed to the number of vacant units with 3,000 housing units vacant in the province including 700 in Regina.

Minister of Social Services Gene Makowsky had been facing particular questions about the 700 vacancies in Regina, a city facing homelessness issues.

He noted not all of the units were available because they were under repair, or “destroyed by previous tenants,” or “don’t meet the needs of the clients that are looking.”

Makowsky said there were approximately 300 units ready to rent in October and 145 units were offered. “We’re continuing to work on being able to house more people,” Makowsky said.

During Question Period, Opposition Leader Carla Beck and critic Meara Conway again highlighted the struggles of Dominika Kosowska, who had been dealing with a rat and mice infestation in her Saskatoon Housing Authority unit.

Kosowska was at the legislature Monday, with her concerns apparently still not resolved.

When asked about it again in Question Period, Makowsky responded that his understanding was that the issue had been looked at by professionals, and that they have looked at it and treated the area referenced.

“That work is under way. If this continues to be an issue, we’ll bring back the professionals in the private sector, Mr. Speaker, and continue to treat. My understanding is it’s not a widespread concern across the many units in that particular building complex Mr. Speaker, but again, we’ll continue to work with anyone who brings these concerns forward, and that will continue. I’d be happy to meet with this individual after Question Period to understand what the issues are and we’ll go from there.”

“She had to go to the media to have her concerns addressed and they have still not been addressed,” Conway said. “Here she is with her nine year old son, and she wants answers, Mr. Speaker.”

Concerns about mental health care were raised by Health Critic Vicki Mowat in Question Period. She highlighted the plight of Kristen Altieri, a 26-year-old Regina resident who has had mental health challenges for ten years and had attempted suicide six times.

Mowat pointed out Altieri had to seek private care in Alberta for an ADHD diagnosis. That set her on a path to treatment but now Mowat said she was now set to lose her nurse practitioner, who was closing her practice to take a teaching position.

Reporters were told Altieri was now struggling to find a replacement general practitioner and was worried she would not get her prescriptions renewed.

“It’s horrible,” said Altieri of trying to find a new health provider. When going on the site looking for a new doctor, “half of them are either gone or they’ve passed away.”

She described it as “a wild goose chase trying to find someone to provide for you.”

During Question Period, Minister of Rural and Remote Health Everett Hindley said he was willing to speak to Altieri about her concerns.