Health care in Sask. and the prairies: some pay the price, but not the ones who should

Ryan Dahlman

Earlier in July, the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) released a press release entitled “‘Saskatchewan waits worst in Canada for health care’ . 

Many people have frustrating, if not horror, stories regarding health care. This isn’t concentrated  only Saskatchewan but across Canada. 

CIHI is an independent, not-for-profit organization that provides essential information on Canada’s health system and the health of Canadians.

The (CIHI) latest report shows that “the median wait time for knee replacements in Saskatchewan last year was 466 days. The national average was 198 days, and the next-worst province, Manitoba, was 336. Saskatchewan also has the worst hospital waits in Canada for hip replacements. The median wait time was 309 days, longer than every other province and nearly double the national average of 164 days… SHA data for the first three months of 2023 shows that hospital waits for knee replacements have gotten worse, hospital waits for hip replacements have barely budged, and some Regina and Saskatoon patients have been stuck waiting nearly three years for priority procedures. According to CIHI, this trend of worst-in-the-nation hospital waits started in 2019, before the pandemic, the year after Premier Scott Moe came to power.”


Ask someone in Alberta what they think of the DynaLIFE Medical Labs and sample collections. In a small sample of Medicine Hat, at best the service is sporadic. It can be anything from having an appointment booked and waiting 20 minutes to clients complaining of waiting for hours. Workers are getting frustrated because they are understaffed, either because they can’t find anyone or by design. 

If you believe the content local Beef and Bouquets type on social media sites, there are many disgruntled people who voicing their frustrations with their local hospitals or health-care related services. 

There is the conspiracy theory out there that both Saskatchewan and Alberta governments are allowing health care to slide to highlight to the public that in fact, the current system of health care does not work. 

I guess in some ways that is true but not in the way that is may be most perceived or trumpeted. 

It is no one’s fault but it is everyone’s fault. 

Of course the obvious choice to blame government and there’s good reason to say that. Healthcare spending is very high, no arguments there. But why is it so high? Governments blame the unions for the high contract settlements (who signed the contracts), but then there forget the high amount of money spent on non-front-line staff. If you get the chance, see how many executive types are on the payroll and how much they get paid.

And if they are getting paid so much, why can’t they figure out or do anything about the so called crisis in health care? Maybe it is because of, to quote a television show, “because they want to save their cinchy jobs.”

The unions aren’t helping. Those who have higher end jobs want raises, and those positions are near or above six figures. With the amount of health care facilities there are, can see where the money goes way up. However if government is saying it only has so much money to spend, those higher ups who have to pay more to be in the union or are union reps ensure they are protected first. Higher paying (but few workers) versus vice versa. 

Then there’s less front line people and… you get the picture of this vicious cycle. 

See, it is no one specific group’s fault but is everybody’s fault. If you believe the CIHI numbers, the ones who suffer are those needing assistance. Privatization, sure, if you have lots of money, but let’s clean up the ivory tower part first and then we’ll talk. 

Ryan Dahlman is the editor and general manager of the Prairie Post and the Southwest Booster