Report from the Legislature – November 07, 2019

Your Saskatchewan Party government is committed to reducing the length of time people are waiting for surgery.

Reducing surgical wait times has long been a priority for our government, dating back to the successful Saskatchewan Surgical Initiative which took the longest surgical wait times in Canada to among the very shortest.

Wait times in Saskatchewan have been increasing again due to additional patients needing surgery, not due to fewer surgeries being performed in Saskatchewan.  We will work to improve wait times for patients through $10 million in new funding.

Approximately 1,700 additional surgeries will be performed before the end of March 2020. These surgeries include cataracts, hip and knee replacements, gynecological surgeries, dental, and ear nose throat procedures.

The number of Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI) cardiac procedures will also grow by 60 per cent. TAVI is an option for patients who require aortic valve replacement and are not candidates for open-heart surgery.

To meet the March 2020 target, the Saskatchewan Health Authority will increase surgical hours in hospitals and also increase contracted volumes with third-party facilities. While the majority of surgeries will occur in Regina and Saskatoon where some of the longest wait times exist, they will be expanded to other centres as well.

In addition to action on surgical waits, we have unanimously passed amendments to The Tobacco Control Act. This allows the province to move quickly to ensure regulation of vaping and vaping products is in line with existing tobacco legislation.

Introduced on November 5, the amendments in Bill 182 will:

  • restrict the sale of vapour/e-cigarette devices and products to individuals 18 years of age and older;
  • prohibit the display of vapour/e-cigarette products in a retail business where young persons have access;
  • restrict the use of vapour/e-cigarette products in and around public buildings, including schools and school grounds, in the same manner as our provincial tobacco legislation;
  • prohibit the sale of vapour/e-cigarette products from specified facilities such as amusement parks, arcades, and theatres where youth frequent; and
  • restrict advertising of vapour/e-cigarette products in the same manner as tobacco products by prohibiting advertising signs and promotional signs in areas where young persons can enter.

Quick passage of this legislation demonstrates how important it is to further protect our youth from vaping. We look forward to consulting with partners and health stakeholders on the regulations and how best to address flavoured vaping products.

In the coming months, the Ministry of Health will proceed with the necessary supporting regulations to address both the restrictions on vaping and vaping products and the enforcement. New signage prohibiting vaping will be made available for public buildings, retail locations and school properties.

It is anticipated that The Tobacco Control Act amendments and supporting regulations will be in force in early 2020.

Your Saskatchewan Party government has more than doubled health care funding since 2007, and our focus on recruiting and retaining medical professionals has resulted in about 3,800 more nurses and nearly 900 more doctors practicing across the province.

We have invested over $1.6 billion into needed health care infrastructure. These funds have allowed our government to open five new or replacement hospitals, 13 long-term care centres, and fund 20 additional major capital projects.

Earlier this year, our government announced that the Weyburn Hospital replacement project and the Prince Albert Victoria Hospital redevelopment project will be entering their final planning stages.

In March, our government delivered on its commitment to mental health with the 284-bed Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford and, for the first time ever, Saskatchewan has its own children’s hospital – the new Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital in Saskatoon.

From record funding for mental health and addictions services to enhanced supports for seniors and those living with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, health care remains a top priority for our government. We will continue to prioritize program spending and strengthen health care for all Saskatchewan people.