Summer has arrived and hopefully we will all have the opportunity to relax and enjoy some time off from our work schedules. It has been a busy year for all of us who provide health care services.
Spring 2018 saw another Budget delivered by the Government. With a change in Premiers earlier this year, there was anticipation that perhaps the political landscape would change, resulting in positive changes to the delivery of health care services. However, along with the delivery of the Budget, and the transition into one health authority, we know that many health care professionals feel uncertain about the future state of health care delivery for the residents of Saskatchewan. This uneasiness will probably continue for some time.
As of December 4, 2017, Saskatchewan officially moved into one health authority, and yet, it seems that too little has changed. It has been said that it will take years for the transition from 12 health regions to one provincial health authority to be actualized. HSAS Labour Relations continues to monitor the transition. In order for the people of Saskatchewan to receive improved services, the new health authority needs to function with a single set of rules across the province. It is only then that the people of Saskatchewan will receive the “improved” health services they have been assured of throughout this transformation. The much-stated goal of moving to a single health authority was to bring efficient and improved front line services to the people it serves.
Consistent service levels across our province, to all residents, regardless of where they live, will require the appropriate numbers of front line health care professionals to provide those services. In order to do so, additional efforts must be made to invest in recruitment of those professionals and practices in place to retain the skills and knowledge of those health care professionals.
Verbal and written commitments have been made to the people of Saskatchewan. As the residents of this province, we have been assured that our health care needs will be met. We understand that dollars spent on health in the public health care system are an investment, not a burden. When the appropriate numbers of dollars are invested in our health care, health care professionals are able to work to their full scope of practice. Those receiving their services are able to benefit from all of their skills and training. Lives are improved.
The benefits of adequate and consistent numbers of health care professionals are far-reaching. With physical and occupational therapists this can mean increased mobility and function for the individual following surgery or injury. Timely access to the Paramedic may mean saving a life of a young individual in a vehicle accident, or someone experiencing a heart attack or stroke. Addictions Counsellors can work together with those struggling with an addiction, which could lead to a healthier life. Assessor Coordinators working in the community and hospital settings can assist those transitioning from one residence and level of care needs to another, helping to make that transition smoother and easier for their loved ones and family members. Our professionals working in our communities advocate for accessible, affordable improved housing, clean water, food and employment, resulting in healthier individuals, healthier communities and a more productive economy. Every single profession represented by HSAS has the capacity to make a positive difference in the lives of Saskatchewan residents. They need to have the opportunity to do so.
An added challenge faced by our health care is the recruitment of those professions where no training school exists in our province. Of course, residents who have had to move to other provinces for post-secondary and specialized training in their chosen field may not return. HSAS professions which do not have training institutions within our province include, but are not limited to, professions such as respiratory therapist, speech language pathologist, occupational therapist, prosthetist, and perfusionist.
Health care is not just about illness. It’s about having the assurance that our basic needs such as food and shelter are met and that should any other health concerns or situations arise, we will have access to the services we need- when we need them. It’s up to us to continue to advocate for those services that our community needs and that each one of us provides at our own workplace.
The Senior leadership team of the provincial health authority has been tasked with the responsibility of ensuring consistent health care services across the province. That single provincial health authority must respond.