For Immediate Release - February 13, 2023
Saskatchewan—Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with the provincial and territorial Premiers to discuss commitments to increase healthcare funding provided to the provinces by $46 billion over the next ten years. These funds include an immediate $2 billion top-up to the previously provided transfer payments.
“There’s no denying our public healthcare system desperately needs the funds,” says SEIU-West President, Barbara Cape, “but we need more than money alone.” The issues frontline healthcare workers are facing today—chronic short staffing, low wages, and encroaching privatization—aren’t new. In fact, many of these issues were first identified a decade ago by those same workers.
There are opportunities for innovation to solve the crisis in public healthcare in Saskatchewan, but they require imagination, commitment, and investment. “The answer to long surgical waitlists, for example, isn’t outsourcing to private clinics,” continues Cape, “it creates an inefficient hybrid system in which complications from a private surgery would still be borne by the public system, but it also robs healthcare workers from the public system to the private system.”
The Saskatchewan government is asking for “flexibility” in how the provinces are to use the additional funds; an ask that has, in the past, placed money directly in the hands of private clinics in the province instead of investment in our public system or has been applied to cover expenses that were accumulated during the pandemic.
Our goal, as Canadians, should be publicly funded, publicly delivered, and publicly accessible Medicare and Pharmacare. Real headway can be made within our public system with education, recruitment, and retention of healthcare workers.
“The disrespect for the value of our public healthcare system is heartbreaking,” Cape says. “And the gradual dismantling of that public system by successive governments is irresponsible. Their primary job is to take care of the wellbeing of the citizens they serve.”
Public healthcare is a right in Canada, not a privilege.
Service Employees International Union West (SEIU-West) represents over 13,000 people across Saskatchewan. They include people who work in health care, education, municipalities, community-based organizations, retirement homes, and other sectors. They are joined by one colour—purple—and one union, SEIU-West. Visit PurpleWorks.ca to find out more about SEIU-West members.
For more information, contact:
Communications Coordinator, SEIU-West
306-652-1011 ext. 2244