CRAIK, Sask. – Minister of Rural and Remote Health, Greg Ottenbreit, joined four party leaders for a town hall discussion on rural health care.
Many residents have argued health care in rural areas is inadequate and difficult to access.
Saskatchewan NDP leader Cam Broten was quick to suggest government money was being wasted in other areas when it could be used to support rural facilities like the health facility in Craik.
“We can cut the waste, we can be focused on the priorities that actually matter like having dollars available to properly staff and properly equip a perfectly good health facility like you have right here in the town,” Broten said to a full community hall.
Minister Ottenbreit defended his party’s record with rural health care.
“We can point to the shortcomings and there’s a lot more work to do. But I’ve measured where are from where we’ve come. and where we’ve come from is a long way over the last seven years.”
The meeting was of particular interest to Craik residents. Just last year the town rallied to secure their local physician after his contract expired and was not renewed for weeks, putting a halt to health care services. Residents took their displeasure to the steps of the legislature last March in a series of rallies.
Craik eventually succeeded in keeping a full-time doctor in their community. But David Ashdown, a councillor in Craik, said that’s not always the case. For countless communities across the Prairies, losing facilities or practitioners is a reoccurring fear.
“We have inadequate home care, inadequate emergency services and a number of things we need to continue to work on,” Ashdown said.