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Northern health region pioneer responds to upcoming provincial overhaul PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chelsea Laskowski   
Wednesday, 29 March 2017 10:57

Nap Gardiner (far right) among past Keewatin Yatthe Regional Health Authority CEO and board members in 2008. Photo courtesy 2007-08 KYRHA annual report.

One of the architects of a northern health region is responding to the province's upcoming health region overhaul.

Keewatin Yatthe Health Authority and all other health regions in Saskatchewan will all become part of a provincial health authority in the fall, according to legislation introduced on Tuesday.

In the late 90s, Nap Gardiner was the Chief Executive Officer who helped create the Keewatin Yatthe Health Authority to operate in north-west Saskatchewan.

At the time, KTHR was taking over from a provincial government-run system based in La Ronge that Gardiner had felt was losing touch with First Nations and Metis worldviews, perspective, and cultural input.

KTHR was created to manage healthcare for a region that held some of the "darkest and worst health indicators in the country," Gardiner said, "from an inclusionary perspective suggesting that people had a lot to offer in terms of how to do this."

He said the north needs a say in the new system.

"One thing for certain, and you can never convince me otherwise: northern people know what is efficient and what’s best for them as it relates to services."

Gardiner said returning to the centralizing of services has its risks of marginalizing people in the north, especially if the healthcare system focuses less on the humanity of who it’s serving and more on financial savings.

"When you start dismantling our DNA as northern Indigenous people… you have to feel that. And when your services start going away somewhere else, you have to feel that too. What kind of guarantee do northern people have that the services will be better?" he asked.

He says he's hoping for the best, because healthcare is a key to the wellbeing of all people.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 March 2017 11:01
Prince Albert forum explores concept of making rent work for on-reserve housing PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dean Bear   
Tuesday, 28 March 2017 16:57

The struggle to provide adequate housing with the limited funding from Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada was addressed at a housing forum hosted by the Prince Albert Grand Council this week.

Housing coordinators at the event on Tuesday noted other regions like Ontario and Quebec have First Nations housing authorities that work with local chiefs and councils to implement an occupancy or maintenance fee to offset some costs for band-owned homes.

This idea is still fairly new in Saskatchewan, where many First Nations people reject fees on the basis that housing or shelter is a treaty right.

John Kierdrowski with the First Nations National Building Officers Association said “a lot of communities have gone past whether housing is a treaty right or an inherent right: they have implemented rental programs and those that are still gravitating whether it (housing) is an inherent right, they aren’t moving forward.”

He said councils on many reserves are “forced to rob Peter to pay Paul, by taking dollars from education or another policy portfolio to pay for housing costs which are increasing, but the amount of funds available from INAC are decreasing” or run into major deficits.

He sees housing authorities, which are at arm’s length from elected officials, as a way for First Nation communities to charge a fee based on income or square footage of the home. In his view, a properly formed housing authority has the power to make collect rents or fees, maintain a budget for maintenance and have borrowing power to build more units. It would also have mechanisms in place to deal with disputes on late rent, the cost of maintenance, and evictions.

He said proper community engagement is key, as is research and community planning. Kierdrowski said introducing a fee on housing warrants further study.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 March 2017 17:05
Sask. proceeds with legislation to amalgamate health regions PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chelsea Laskowski   
Tuesday, 28 March 2017 14:34

Health Minister Jim Reiter presents the new Provincial Health Authority Act for the first time. Screenshot from legassembly.sk.ca

The timeline for the province’s plan to overhaul health regions and healthcare delivery is a little more clear now that new legislation has been introduced to consolidate all health regions under a single Provincial Health Authority.

The new act, called “The Provincial Health Authority Act” was introduced in legislature on Tuesday by Health Minister Jim Reiter. This is the first major step towards implementing the major recommendation of health region consolidation contained in the Saskatchewan Advisory Panel on Health System Structure Report, which was released in January.

The single Provincial Authority is expected to come into force one the new act is proclaimed in the fall.

A provincial news release states the new act “will improve frontline patient care by removing arbitrary health region boundaries” of the current 12 Regional Health Authorities that answer to their own boards and are each led by a CEO.

The new act is meant to replace “The Regional Health Services Act,” and the province says it will “establish the specific roles and responsibilities of the Minister and Provincial Health Authority.”

The new act is also meant to create and continue operating Community Advisory Networks in order to identify community needs and interests.

Not all aspects of the advisory reports’ recommendations will be implemented by the fall. The province says different parts - like the re-design of acute care services, Emergency Medical Services, laboratory and diagnostic imaging – will be phased in over time.

The province has yet to outline the structure of the new authority and the integrated service areas contained within it. The advisory panel’s report recommends the province create four different "service integration areas," but leaves wiggle room for the province to choose between three and six different areas as needed.

Previously, healthcare workers like Theresa Sawatsky, the local president of the union that represents Prince Albert Parkland Health Region (PAPHR) health workers, cited concerns that rural areas would be negatively impacted by the upcoming changes.

"As a community outside of the bigger centres, we're already strapped for services. Over the past years we've lost services," she said.

"We don't have the services that we once had and now that we're going into the whole one health region, I'm worried that we're going to be lost within the system."

Rural and Remote Health Minister Greg Ottenbreit addressed those concerns in the province’s new release.

“Having a strong connection to rural Saskatchewan, I know how important health care is to communities across this province,” Ottenbreit said.

“Our government is committed to ensuring that the local voice continues to be heard within the new health system structure."

Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 March 2017 16:12
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