REGINA – The official start to the election campaign won’t be until sometime between March 1 and 8, but that didn’t stop party leaders from making campaign promises on Thursday.
The NDP unveiled its plan to reduce emergency room wait times outside of Regina General Hospital.
Party leader Cam Broten laid out the healthcare platform in three parts: hiring 35 nurse practitioners to fast track ER patients who can be quickly treated and released, opening four extended hour quick care clinics, and launching a community paramedic pilot program in Regina and Saskatoon.
Broten said all of this will take pressure off ER’s.
“You go there expecting to have a big wait. If the will is there, if the plan is there we can reduce waits,” he said.
READ MORE: Sask. NDP pledges reduced ER wait times
In response, Health Minister Dustin Duncan restated the province’s commitment to reduce ER wait times by 60 per cent by 2019.
He said they have been seeing success in having nurse practitioners work in long-term care facilities.
“In some of the facilities where we’ve piloted nurse practitioners we’ve seen a 70 per cent reduction in long term care residents ending up in emergency departments,” the minister explained.
On the Green Party front, leader Victor Lau wants to see Crown corporations become Crown co-operatives.
He used the Saskatchewan Transportation Company as an example where this practice could help save the province money.
“Looking at the history of co-operatives in Saskatchewan, as well as around the world, many co-operatives are able to facilitate their members needs and in most cases make a slight profit,” Lau said.
In a statement, the province said they feel the current Crown model provides an appropriate return on investments.
Progressive Conservative leader Rick Swenson spent Thursday campaigning against the Regina Bypass. He claimed a route around the northern portion of Regina would be cheaper and called for more answers on the planning process.
“Because of the enormity of the size of the transactions that are taking place here that there must be a public inquiry,” Swenson said.
Premier Brad Wall kept his focus on the first ministers’ meeting on March 3rd in Victoria.
The environment will be the main focus of the meeting, but Wall has been lobbying to increase the economic focus, which he’s said is the main issue of the provincial election.
Another economic issue he will discuss more with the Prime Minister is a proposed American pilot project to close The Port of Raymond border crossing between midnight at 6 a.m.
“About sixty per cent of our exports go to the United States from the province of Saskatchewan. About five per cent would go through that border. It would be a significant impact on our economy,” the premier said.
Saskatchewan’s election will be held April 4th.