We are quick to point out when they are wrong, so it only seems right that we should offer a tip of the hat when they do right.
The provincial government made the proper decision Thursday when it was announced they would pick up the majority of the costs for Estevan resident Jeff Lukye's cancer surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Lukye, 30, will be heading to the renowned medical facility later this week to prepare for a series of surgeries that doctors feel will save his life.
However, with just days to spare, it was beginning to look as though the government was not going to provide funding for the surgery which is expected to cost between $200,000 to $300,000. So on top of having to get ready for a surgery that will include the amputation of a leg, Lukye and his wife Keri had the added stress of worrying about how they were going to pay the bills.
It's more than any family should have to bear and it's not how we are supposed to do things here in Saskatchewan. We are the province that takes care of one other, not the one that forces a family to sell their home to pay for surgery, which by the way, is something the Lukye family said they were willing to do to ensure Jeff gets the care he needs.
The residents of Estevan have been doing their part to help one of their own and with time running out before the Lukyes make the trek south, the province stepped up to help one of it's own.
There will be those skeptics who point out that the government's decision didn't come until after the Lukyes story hit the front page of the Regina Leader-Post and the Ministry of Health had been receiving a number of calls from other media outlets in the province including this one. Health Minister Don McMorris indicated during Question Period the delay was due to procedural issues involving the lack of referral letter which had been the major hang up. By Thursday they apparently had the letter and the final hurdle to funding was cleared. Whatever the case may be, the most important fact is that the government made the right and humane decision.
Along with making the announcement of funding for the Lukyes, McMorris added that the government is also close to finalizing a review that will ensure residents under similar circumstances will not fall between the cracks as the Lukyes almost did.
We hope there is some substance to his comments and that they were not just a way of appeasing the public while they were under fire. The rule that a person must have a referral letter before the government will fund an out-of-country surgery makes sense in principal but there are some cases where not everything is cut and dried.
There has to be a way for common sense and decency to be built into the system. There has to be a way to make sure no Saskatchewan resident who is already going through some of the toughest times of their lives is hit with an added financial burden.
The right decision was made in this case. Let's learn from this and make sure the right decisions are made in the future.