Moose Jaw Health Foundation Keeps Giving
I am looking forward to the Moose Jaw Health Foundation Festival of Trees this weekend. The Festival of Trees is arguably the social event of the year in Moose Jaw. The gala’s auction of uniquely decorated trees, the gourmet dinner and dance make for an incredible start to the Christmas season. Proceeds from this year’s event will help purchase a new portable digital x-ray unit that will provide state-of-the-art equipment at a patient’s bedside, replacing an outdated system that is over 10 years old.
For more than three decades, the Moose Jaw Health Foundation has been helping health care professionals in Moose Jaw provide better quality health care. Their website acknowledges that donors and volunteers are the heart and soul of the Foundation. Together, past and present donors and volunteers have helped the Foundation raise over $34 million. This is an astounding example of community spirit and caring.
During a decade of growth, our government has worked to improve health care services. The Dr. F.H. Wigmore Regional Hospital was completed in 2015; thirteen new long-term care facilities have been built; and the new Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital in Saskatoon and Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford are currently under construction.
We have hired more than 750 new doctors and 3,400 nurses of every designation. The addition of more than 750 new doctors represents a 43% increase in overall physician numbers compared to a decade ago, and includes a 52% increase in specialists and a 35% increase in general practitioners.
Saskatchewan has gone from having the longest surgical wait times in Canada a decade ago, to having among the shortest wait times today. Our innovative two-for-one approach to increasing access to diagnostic imaging is helping patients get needed care sooner.
We know there is still more to do in health care and we will be working to address some of those issues during this Legislative Session. In the coming weeks, we will be transitioning to a single Saskatchewan Health Authority. This change is about providing better health care to all the people of the province and making the best use of resources.
We will implement a new organ donation program, to be led by donor physicians who will provide education and support to fellow health care providers and champion organ donation. The new program will expand the pool of donors by amending regulations to allow for a donation after cardio-circulatory death and by implementing a mandatory referral program. In addition, we will continue to explore the option of moving to a presumed consent model of organ donation.
The government will fulfill its commitment to provide individualized funding for children under the age of six diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The initial funding level will be $4,000 per year for each child, for a total investment of approximately $2.8 million next fiscal year. This funding is in addition to the nearly $8 million already provided to support ASD services within the health care system.
Health care continues to be a priority to the people of Saskatchewan. Thank you to the Moose Jaw Health Foundation, the organizers of the Festival of Trees, and to all who contribute to meeting the health care needs of our community and surrounding area. This kind of caring and community spirit will keep Saskatchewan growing stronger.