Sunday, May 16, 2010

On advance notice

Following up on my earlier posts, let's note one final topic worth mentioning out of the extended exchange between Dwain Lingenfelter and Brad Wall this past week. This time, the part worth highlighting involves a policy position which Wall apparently wanted to play up for the occasion despite it not normally forming an area of strength for his party.

Here's Wall discussing health care in response to questions which had to do generally with the poor results under the Wall government rather than any specific concerns about the type of delivery:
Hon. Mr. Wall:...We need to keep our options open with respect to using regional operating theatres if we have to, perhaps engaging private clinics and surgeons, surgeons that are involved in those private clinics.

We hope members opposite will support that
. Members opposite have been voicing concerns quite rightly about the kidney transplant situation, about the need to get patients their kidney transplants obviously. I hope they will also work with the government as we move to solve the wait times initiative and use all of the options within the public health care system, including the potential of private clinics to add to the resources of the province and the regional operating theatres.
I would also say this to the member. He asks a question about wait-lists which are still too long in the province. I ask him this. It's now 18 months from the next election. And so now we need to hear, if what we're doing is not enough— and fair enough, that's part of the debate — I think we need to hear what members opposite would do. I think we need to hear why members opposite would oppose, within a public system, a single-payer system. We need to find out why that former free-enterprising capitalist from Alberta would oppose the use of private clinics to come into the province and deliver, within a public system, on surgeries for Saskatchewan.

We need a lot of orthopedic surgeries in the province. Well the member is kind of smiling. He's kind of grinning. Maybe he wants to get up in the next question and tell this House and tell the people of the province why he would object, why he would object to the use of private clinics who will come in, in the public system, operating in operating theatres to reduce the wait-list.
So what's significant about that exchange? Last I'd heard, the Sask Party wasn't publicly stating an intention to do anything more than study the concept of a privatized surgical system. But to the extent there was any doubt about the Sask Party's plans, Wall looks to have put an end to it: there surely wouldn't be any reason for him to start demanding the NDP's support for a privatized surgical system if it was merely one possibility rather than the path the Sask Party fully planned to take.

As a result, Wall looks to have given away the game as to what his government plans to do. And while the topic obviously wasn't at the top of the NDP's list for discussion last week, I'd think Lingenfelter has reason to grin about how the debate will play out if the province votes based on whether it wants to see money gush out of the public health care system into the hands of private operators.

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