NDP rolls out five-point plan to protect rural health from Sask. Party cuts

Today NDP Leader Ryan Meili, joined by NDP Health Critic, Vicki Mowat, and rural health care advocate and Saskatchewan NDP candidate for Canora-Pelly, Stacey Strykowski, committed to repairing years of Sask. Party underfunding of rural healthcare, which has led to service disruptions, closed Emergency Rooms, and greater stress for rural families and seniors.

“I am a  family doctor. I firmly believe that wherever you live in Saskatchewan, you have a right to quality healthcare that’s there when you need it most,” said Meili. “The Sask. Party has taken rural Saskatchewan for granted for too long. If granted the honour of serving in government this October, an NDP government will make the investments needed to improve rural healthcare.”

Meili noted that of the 12 rural emergency rooms that the Sask. Party closed earlier this year in the midst of a pandemic, 3 remain closed due to staffing shortages. Despite Scott Moe’s claims to support rural people, Saskatchewan is the only jurisdiction in Canada that has seen its proportion of rural doctors decline over the last 5 years.

In May of this year, outgoing Sask. Party MLA Greg Brkich wrote, “local folks are being short changed again in rural Saskatchewan.”

“The Sask. Party is spending lots of corporate cash on ads rewriting history, all to distract people from the fact they closed rural ERs during a pandemic and that there are more cuts ahead,” said Meili. “The cuts they are planning would be wrong in normal times, but right now they are downright dangerous. With the Sask. Party promising four years of austerity and cuts moving forward, more of these rural emergency rooms will close as the cuts get deeper.”

Meili committed that an NDP government would:

  • Reopen the rural emergency rooms closed by Scott Moe and commit to keeping all our existing rural acute care centres open.
  • Invest an additional $10 million to address chronic short staffing and recruitment challenges in rural healthcare.
  • Invest in rural health infrastructure as part of our capital plan to fix crumbling rural healthcare facilities.
  • Convene a panel of rural municipal, healthcare, First Nations and Métis leaders to advise on improving access to healthcare in rural areas.
  • Work with the Health Science faculties on an aggressive rural training program to recruit and retain young people from rural Saskatchewan in health care careers.

“Early in my career, I had the great privilege of working as a rural locum, filling in for rural doctors in communities all across this province,” said Meili. “I worked in several of the communities that have seen closures under the Sask Party. I never thought for a moment that those communities didn’t need and deserve acute care services. People like Stacey Strykowski have had to fight to keep rural emergency rooms open – they deserve a government that won’t take them for granted and is willing to work with them to secure these vital services.”