SASKATOON -- The Saskatchewan NDP has released a five-point plan to repair what it calls years of Sask. Party "underfunding" to rural health care.

“I am a family doctor. I firmly believe that wherever you live in Saskatchewan, you have a right to quality healthcare that’s there when you need it most,” Meili said in a news release.

“The Sask. Party has taken rural Saskatchewan for granted for too long. If granted the honour of serving in government this October, an NDP government will make the investments needed to improve rural healthcare.”

Of the 12 rural emergency rooms that the Sask. Party government closed earlier this year in the midst of a pandemic, three remain closed due to staffing shortages, he said.

Saskatchewan is the only jurisdiction in Canada that has seen its proportion of rural doctors decline over the last five years, he said.

Meili said an NDP government would:

  • Reopen the rural emergency rooms closed by Scott Moe and keep existing rural acute care centres open.
  • Invest an additional $10 million to address chronic short staffing and recruitment challenges in rural healthcare.
  • Invest in rural health infrastructure as part of a capital plan to fix crumbling rural healthcare facilities.
  • Convene a panel of rural municipal, healthcare, First Nations and Métis leaders to advise on improving access to healthcare in rural areas.
  • Work with the Health Science faculties on an aggressive rural training program to recruit and retain young people from rural Saskatchewan in health care careers.

“The Sask. Party is spending lots of corporate cash on ads rewriting history, all to distract people from the fact they closed rural ERs during a pandemic and that there are more cuts ahead,” said Meili.

“The cuts they are planning would be wrong in normal times, but right now they are downright dangerous. With the Sask. Party promising four years of austerity and cuts moving forward, more of these rural emergency rooms will close as the cuts get deeper.”