SEIU-WEST, a union with an office in Moose Jaw and represents over 12,000 healthcare workers across the province, is disappointed in the healthcare funding agreement between the province and the federal government.
On March 1, the two governments announced that they reached an agreement in principle for nearly $6 billion in healthcare funding over the next 10 years.
Back on Feb. 7, the federal government announced $2 billion from the Canada Health Transfer to address immediate pressures on the healthcare system.
The new agreement includes a one-time payment of $61 million top-up on the Canada Health Transfer to address pediatric hospitals, emergency rooms and long wait times for surgeries.
In addition, the province will receive a total of $1.11 billion over 10 years for a new bilateral agreement that focuses on shared health care priorities.
“When you look at the hospitals we have, when you look at the long-term care facilities and integrated care facilities and home care services all across Saskatchewan, it is the very definition of a literal drop in the bucket of what we need to invest in our healthcare system,” said SEIU-WEST president Barbara Cape.
Saskatchewan was the eighth province to sign on to the healthcare funding agreement. Premier Scott Moe had previously said the agreement was less than what the province was asking, but none of the provinces were in a position to turn it down.
The funding is part of the federal government’s commitment to spending $198.6 billion over the next 10 years on healthcare.
Cape said that she would like to see the healthcare worker unions at the table when the governments are negotiating healthcare funding.
“We can provide the experience, the actual evidence of what is happening in real-time,” Cape said.
Cape noted that one of the most pressing issues facing the healthcare sector right now is staffing. As an example, she said the province announced a $10 million increase for frontline workers a couple of years ago and that resulted in about 0.5 full-time equivalent workers in each facility.
SEIU-WEST represents 11,500 Saskatchewan Health Authority workers and about 750 healthcare workers that work outside of the Saskatchewan Health Authority.