FTLComm - Tisdale - April 8, 1999
It is extremely troubling to witness this event unfolding. These pictures taken this morning at 11:00 show no pickets in from of the two health care facilities in Tisdale but across the province at 0700 this morning nurses left their posts. Among the various career choices people make going into nursing requires a very special kind of person. One who chooses a career that will help other people, a job that will involve long hours, shift work and extreme danger, yet people have continued to enter this profession knowing full well they do so not to become wealthy but because they want to work in situations that will make a difference in the lives of other people.

Improper Use of Health Care Money

Though suspected for some time it was learned Wednesday that the Workers Compensation Board collects money from employers to pay for worker injuries but the money is not paid for health care. Since almost all large claims to WCB involve lengthy appeals lasting several years in most cases, the affected workers receive medical care but when their appeals are won, WCB does not pay those medical costs from its un-audited funds which are growing at an alarming rate. Because actuaries indicate what those costs should be and the board is not paying the money out, so that its fund is now in the hundreds of millions. Money that is not being accounted for publically while workers routinely are harrassed and denied their claims.

When we consider that things have gotten to the point that these dedicated and highly motivated individuals are so abused by their employers that they feel they have no other course of action other then to withdraw their services indicates that we are in a very desperate situation. There is a serious shortage of people trained to work in this role as was clear this year when Regina health board had to close portions of their two remaining hospitals because they could not find enough staff to keep their system running.

Thirty years ago we all thought our concern about medical care in Saskatchewan and Canada as a whole, for that matter, was behind us. The doctors who had rejected Medicare initially in 1962 had come to realise that they could not only work well within the programme but could earn much more money with the new system. The rest of Canada was adopting the Saskatchewan system and our cost for medical care was far below that of our neighbours to the South with their "private" medical insurance programmes that excluded almost one third of the population from receiving adequate medical care.

But the climate of this era is drifting back to the way things were in the 1930s. The government run medical program has lost its focus and politicians have seen fit to medal with a good system. The present government in its efforts to restore economic balance in its budget drastically cut medical expenditures and cover up these reductions created psuedo-autonomous regional boards who would bear the brunt of the reduced expenditures. Fifty-four hospitals in the province were closed and almost all others reduced in their performance so that the treatment and care the citizens of the province receive is now unacceptable as people can not expect damaged limbs and joints to be treated immediately but sometime a year or so from now. The cost cutting included reducing the people serving in the hospitals as huge amounts of money goes toward setting up new administration facilities for these regional boards.

In general the health care system of the province is in a massive crisis and the strike by the most dedicated and selfless group in society draws attention to the depth of the trouble. In the recent budget, realising that something must be done try to sort out some of this trouble the provincial government boldly announced how much more money it would put into the health care system and only two weeks later it is telling the striking nurses it can not afford to pay for wages increases yet it can afford $50,000, 000 to be put into repairing the infrastructure to handle four digit calendar years.

It is shameful and an embarrassment to every tax payer that our government representatives are going to legislate the nurses back to work. Essential the people who chose to become nurses because of their dedication to helping other people are now slaves. We can not blame our politicians, we elected them and they are acting on our behalf to do what is totally unacceptable.