“Pre-existing service disruptions” widespread for years, NDP calls for action on rural healthcare access

In response to yesterday’s Sask. Party government announcement that three of the 12 recently shuttered rural ERs will remain closed indefinitely due to “pre-existing service disruptions,” the Saskatchewan NDP is joining rural healthcare advocates in calling on the provincial government to act quickly to address funding shortfalls and staffing shortages so that Saskatchewan people can access the healthcare they need.

“According to data we obtained through Freedom of Information, 11 of these facilities have faced years of service disruptions — no wonder residents worry that the current closures could become permanent,” said NDP Health Critic Vicki Mowat. “Especially with experts warning us to prepare for a possible second wave of COVID-19, now is the time to fix these long-standing issues and address the gaps in rural healthcare in our province.”

The NDP shared health data obtained through a Freedom of Information request showing that extended disruptions at these facilities have been more the norm than the exception in recent years. The FOI lists extensive rural hospital closures dating from 2012, the earliest that data was available, until the summer of 2019, when the FOI was filed. According to the data, the Davidson Health Centre saw 230 days of service disruption between 2013 and 2018. Wolseley went 368 consecutive days where no emergency services were available, while Preeceville went 59 total days without emergency services. 

Mowat was joined by Stacey Strykowski, a town councillor in Preeceville and long-time advocate for rural healthcare access in Saskatchewan, who wants to see the government act quickly to address these long-standing gaps. 

“I got involved in defending healthcare access in my community because my son has a health condition that makes a closed ER extremely scary,” said Strykowski. “For years now we’ve been pushing the government to invest in rural healthcare — they failed to, right through the good years, but now that we’re facing a public health crisis, it’s time to finally step up and do the right thing.”

Four years ago this week, Strykowski and her community brought an entire busload of people to the legislature to defend access to emergency services in her community of Preeceville.

Community

Timeframe of ER Disruptions

Leader 

Jun. 2017 - Jul. 2019

Kerrobert

Dec. 2013 – Aug. 2019

Biggar

Dec. 2013 – Aug. 2019

Herbert

Oct. 2015 – Jul. 2019

Davidson

Dec. 2013 – Mar. 2018

Lanigan

Jun. 2017 – Jul. 2018

Preeceville

Jan. 2015 – Apr. 2016 

Wolseley

Jun. 2013 – Mar. 2019 

Broadview

May 2017 – Sept. 2019

Arcola

May 2016

Radville 

Dec. 2013 – Jul. 2019

(Note that date ranges reflect periods of extensive disruption, detailed in the attached, rather than periods of complete closure.)

Authorized by the chief official agent for the Saskatchewan New Democratic Party.