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Legislative Report (24 May 2006)

Legislative Report

24 May 2006

Calvert NDP Leaving Many Behind

The spring sitting of the Saskatchewan Legislature wrapped up on Friday with the Official Opposition Saskatchewan Party highlighting the many people and groups who have been left behind by the Calvert NDP government.

With the Calvert government kicking off the session stating their goal was that “no one is left behind,” the Official Opposition spent the majority of the session bringing forward issues and individual cases that demonstrated this is not the case in Saskatchewan. In addition, job creation numbers released at the start of the spring session showed that Saskatchewan had lost jobs for six months straight. As a result, one question that became a focus of much debate in the Legislature was, “how can we be losing jobs and people in the middle of an oil boom?”

The most serious case of someone being left behind by the NDP government was that of Baby Paige Hansen and her parents Michelle and Mike Hansen of Humboldt. Baby Paige’s parents were forced to flee to Edmonton to seek timely care for their daughter after being told their screaming child would have to wait another three weeks for tests to determine exactly what was wrong. Within 24 hours of being admitted to the hospital in Edmonton, the family had a preliminary diagnosis of leukemia.

The Official Opposition Saskatchewan Party asked the Minister of Health to provide a report explaining how something like this could happen in Saskatchewan and what steps will be taken to make sure no other family has to endure a similar experience in Saskatchewan’s health care system. To date, no answers have been provided.

Baby Paige was not the only one left behind by the health care system under the management of the NDP government. Emily Morley is a mother with cancer affecting her liver, lungs and spine. She was told she would have to wait three months for her FIRST appointment with an oncologist. After her family made her case public at the legislature, Emily’s appointment was moved up but her prognosis was not so positive. She was told she may have only three months to live. If it weren’t for the courage of her family, Emily might not have even made it to her first appointment.

Terry Rak, Bob Loeppky and Valerie Paterson were left behind by the NDP’s mismanagement of the health care system. Colorectal cancer patients like Terry Rak and Bob Loeppky are told they have to pull out their credit card to access cutting-edge cancer drugs in the home of Tommy Douglas who said one’s access to health care should not be determined by their ability to pay. Valerie Paterson was one of many people with heart problems who are being told they have to wait six months for an angiogram in Saskatoon. Valerie experienced heart-attack like systems while waiting for the test.

There is a problem in the Saskatchewan health care system when families are forced to leave the province to seek medical care or go to the steps of the Legislature to get an appointment with a doctor. The NDP government’s failure to properly manage health care is starting to show. Unfortunately, it’s at the expense of people’s well-being.

The Official Opposition has proposed a patient-first review of the health care system to ensure that precious health care dollars, which make up a larger and larger part of the budget every year, are making it to the front lines to patient care and aren’t getting tied up in governance and administration.

In order to ensure we can afford healthcare and the many other social programs that are important to Saskatchewan people, we need a sustainable tax base to pay for it. But we have a problem in Saskatchewan. People, especially young people, are leaving the province and taking with them their contributions to our communities and the economy. The NDP government seems content to watch people leave, as one former cabinet minister has said, when people leave, there’s more for the rest of us. One thing there will be more of is a tax burden to support an aging population.

This session, the Saskatchewan Party also raised examples of other people and groups being left behind. Parents are being left behind as young people continue to leave the province. Patients are being left behind with the NDP’s failure to recruit and retain nurses and other health care professionals. Farm families were left behind by the NDP’s failure to fully fund the Canadian Agricultural Income Stabilization plan and by their cuts to crop insurance.

Taxpayers were left behind by the NDP’s hidden property tax hikes in its budget. Out of 81 former school divisions, property taxes are being hiked in 63 divisions because the NDP government has failed to fund the increasing costs of education. Teachers are being left behind as the NDP’s underfunding of education will result in at least 150 teacher cuts.

Finally, with the NDP at the helm, it is Saskatchewan that is being left behind by other provinces in Western Canada. One specific example raised during this session is a major inter-provincial trade agreement that was signed by Alberta and British Columbia. The NDP government wasn’t even at the table. We are at a time where we will witness a significant shift in economic and political power from eastern Canada to the west. And if Saskatchewan is to be a part of the New West that is emerging, it needs an innovative and forward thinking government, not the tired, old NDP government.

If you have a question about this report or any other matter, just Contact Glen.

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