Broten reflects on spring session

NDP opposition leader Cam Broten is talking about accomplishments in his assessment of the spring sitting of the legislature.

In a conference call with reporters Wednesday afternoon, just prior to the wrap up of the session Thursday, May 14, Broten noted the number of people who came to the legislature during the spring session to advance particular issues.

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He said what stood out for him this session was the "number of people from throughout the province on a variety of topics who made the effort to come to the legislature to share their stories and to push for change."

Among those who brought concerns to the legislature were more than 70 people from Craik, who protested outside and were "really concerned about changes to rural health care in their area.

That led to more people coming to the legislature to speak on various issues, Broten said, including on seniors care, ambulances and crumbling schools.

Among those at the legislature this spring were Jim and Gail Sack of the Battlefords, carbon monoxide victims who were in the gallery in support of keeping the Moose Jaw-based hyperbaric chamber in operation.

"It's not a Moose Jaw issue, it's a Saskatchewan issue," said Broten. "We've heard from many people who've come forward to the legislature speaking to how it's really saved their life."

Broten noted a cancer survivor was saved from extensive skin grafts and surgeries due to visits to the hyperbaric chamber.

The opposition considers it a "failure of this government to use common sense and to properly plan." He said it is an example of the failure of the John Black Lean planning process.

"When the government did the Lean planning for the new hospital, they squeezed back the hyperbaric chamber."

Broten says he believes the opposition has "finally" pushed the government into agreeing to keep the hyperbaric chamber in the province, but wants to ensure it is a hospital setting and said "Moose Jaw makes sense" as the location, due to medical personnel already there who are certified to do that work.

Broten also took a swipe at Moose Jaw's Sask. Party representation in the legislature, citing "failure of the local MLAs there to advocate for the city" on the issue.

There were a number of familiar issues at the legislature this spring. Senior care continued to be a concern for Broten.

On ambulance fees, Broten says "we've moved the needle" on the issue, with Broten noting the province is the only one to charge for "inter-facility transfers" from one community to another.

"That's a real barrier to care, it doesn't make sense. That's a place where changes should start for improving the fee system," said Broten.

Broten also spoke about the ombudsman's report that came out earlier that day about the death of Margaret Warholm at a Regina care home.

Broten noted that report stated the case was "not unique" and said "the concerns are widespread across the province, and I've heard them, from the cities and from rural locations, absolutely."

Broten called for minimum care standards and hard rules, better staffing ratios and a "culture that is not about fear" when speaking up on problems. Broten also called for a senior's advocate who could fill that role as well.

Broten says he looks forward to more candidates being nominated to run in the next provincial election.

"We have a team that's coming together that's younger, on average, diverse in backgrounds and who they are. We've nominated a very high number of women which is very important as well."

He plans to spend the summer out and about across the province. "That's what being outside the legislative sitting allows us to do," said Broten.

"Summer's a time out for listening and getting feedback and hearing what's going on, and having meetings with all sorts of groups."

© Copyright Battlefords News Optimist

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