Members at the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA) convention got the chance Wednesday to ask direct questions to provincial cabinet ministers on some of the issues that they’ve been dealing with.
The convention’s annual Bear Pit session lasted about an hour.
Education Minister Dustin Duncan fielded a question about the importance of investments in services in children from birth-to-six-years, and he pointed to the Canada-Saskatchewan Early Learning and childcare agreement.
“This budget provides for funding for 6,100 new positions, new spaces for childcare across the province,” Duncan said. “That’s on top of the 1,600 new spaces that we’ve announced just since December. We have a target of 6,100 this year and 28,000 over the next five years under the agreement.”
La Ronge mayor Colin Ratushniak asked a question about health care, saying almost every member of SUMA is asking the government to deliver on health care before it’s too late.
“We heard today that the minister of health that the SHA is still fairly new after being in place for five years,” Ratushniak said. “We heard that the government needed to be able to crawl and walk before it could run, but how much longer is that going to take? How much more burnout to our health care friends and family members delivering those services going to have to wait?”
Merriman said that they have challenges in the health care system and they’re not disregarding them at all, and two of the five years since the Saskatchewan Health Authority has been in a challenging pandemic.
He said there is work to do on recruitment.
“We’re working with (Advanced Education) Minister (Gene) Makowsky on 150 new nursing seats, new doctor’s positions, new surgical initiatives,” Merriman said. “We’re making sure that we can get our health care system back on track because it was been challenged, and if there are any health care workers or family of health care workers, I just want to personally say thank you very much for the efforts you’ve been doing over the past couple of years.”
Merriman said he has asked senior managers within the SHA to visit facilities like those in La Ronge to talk to people to get solutions.
The annual SUMA convention wrapped up Wednesday.
Other questions from SUMA delegates involved hospice care and school board funding decisions for the Chinook School Board.