Medical exodus and alcohol in the parks, two hot topics on Monday


Daily Leg Update – Opposition Leader Meili Asks Prime Minister Moe About Specialist Doctor Exodus

REGINA — The exodus of medical staff and an amendment to eventually allow municipalities authority to allow alcohol in their parks were among the issues that kicked off the final week of the Legislature’s spring sitting on Monday .

Health care pressures welcome Prime Minister Moe’s return

Monday marked Premier Scott Moe’s first day back in the Legislative Assembly after his recent trade mission to the United Arab Emirates last week.

Moe was met with an immediate toast by Opposition Leader Ryan Meili, who started Question Period by focusing on the exodus of health professionals from the province.

Meili highlighted the departure of Dr. Hassan Masri, a Saskatoon intensive care specialist and former spokesperson for the provincial Stick it To COVID campaign, who had announced his departure.

In response, Moe acknowledged in his replies that COVID-19 has put “a strain on every facet of our personal and professional lives.” He thanked all of these healthcare workers and noted that the government had worked hard to increase recruitment and retention efforts, including training places for nurses from 300 to 1,000. He noted that the rates of attrition within the Saskatchewan Health Authority has remained constant at approximately 3.5%.

Meili ratcheted up the pressure on Moe by quoting Dr Masri, who said her choice to leave was “forced on me by a failed leader like Scott Moe”.

Meili further quoted Dr. Masri as saying that Prime Minister Moe had time to call an anti-vax leader, but never bothered to listen to “my private and public demands and pleas. despite endless attempts.

“We are losing our best and our brightest,” Meili said.

Moe responded by once again thanking Dr. Masri for his work and again pointing out the 3.5% attrition rate. Moe also pointed to the recent budget’s four-point plan to attract, recruit and retain nurses.

“This four-point plan is nothing more than talking points,” Meili replied. He then cited Dr Masri’s denunciation of the Prime Minister, quoting him as saying “Scott Moe is the example of the leader I never want to be”.

Moe defended the four-point plan, saying they were “not talking points.” For international recruitment, “there is a million and a half dollars. It’s not a talking point, it’s real dollars being invested.

Speaking to reporters afterwards, Moe again thanked Dr. Masri for his work on the Stick It to COVID campaign.

As for how the government is supporting members of the health care system, Moe said he is committed to “bringing additional people into the health service to support those who are finally there.”

Moe also noted that filling positions isn’t just a Saskatchewan-specific challenge. “We currently have positions funded and open that are unfilled, so we need to fill those positions, and it’s highly likely that you need to go beyond just filling those positions and adding additional positions to all of them. levels in our health care system so that we can continue to provide the services that we want to provide, and people expect us to provide them, and to do so without putting undue pressure on the people who are there today today.

Hindley takes issue with Meili’s claim about Pillars of Life funding cut

After attacking the government for leaving the doctors, Meili went on to slam the government for not funding harm reduction and for what he called a ‘20%’ funding cut to the Pillars suicide prevention plan. for Life.

This prompted a response from Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Everett Hindley, who replied that there was $470 million in this year’s budget for mental health, more than in previous years, and that it had been investing $92 million in targeted mental health and addictions initiatives since 2018. there had also been no budget cuts for Pillars for Life, and they had received the same funding as in the last budget , Hindley said.

Government hopes to pass amendment to allow alcohol in public parks

The other major event of the day was the presentation by the minister responsible for the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA), Jim Reiter, of a modification to the regulation, in order to give municipalities and park authorities the discretion allow the consumption of alcohol in outdoor public places such as parks, for people of legal drinking age.

If passed, the amendments would allow municipalities or park authorities to regulate alcohol consumption in their public outdoor spaces and make their own decisions. This change would not apply to provincial parks which will maintain the status quo, Reiter said.

Reiter told reporters they were making the change in response to some expressed interest.

He noted that the City of Saskatoon passed a motion over the winter asking the province to consider this. This would give them the opportunity to be able to do it this summer.

A number of provinces across the country allowed municipalities to allow alcohol in parks, “within parameters that cities choose to follow so they can ensure there are adequate policing, adequate sanitary facilities, that sort of thing,” Reiter said.

“It’s a relatively minor amendment. It is not mandatory for a municipality. Those who want to can certainly do it, those who don’t can stay with the status quo.

For it to take effect in time for this summer, unanimous consent would be needed in the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday.

But at this stage the indication from the opposition is that they are unlikely to agree to it without further consultation – which would seem to mean it is unlikely to get the green light in time to take effect. this summer, at the end of the session. this week.

Deputy Leader of the Opposition Nicole Sarauer mentioned the need to talk to stakeholders first and also raised concerns about the substance abuse crisis in the province.

“I think it’s really important that the consultation process takes place,” Sarauer said.


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