Former Prairie North Health Region high-level staff received large payments before and as a result of the creation of the Saskatchewan Health Authority.
For 2018, David Fan was paid a salary of $285,083, and a severance amount of $569,376. In 2017, former vice-president Irene Denis was paid a salary of $253,579, and a severance amount of $383,940. Fan's 2017 salary was $383,138.
Salaries include regular base pay, overtime, honouraria, sick leave, vacation leave and merit or performance pay, lump sum payments and any other direct cash remuneration.
In 2013 and 2014, Prairie North Health Region was designated a Saskatchewan Top Employer. The health region was responsible for operating two regional hospitals, it was home to Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford and delivered health services in two separate provinces.
In June, the Saskatchewan Health Authority released its first budget. According to a PowerPoint summarizing information from the budget, total revenue is expected to be $3,836,696,162, as are expenditures. Other notes include $3.3 billion is deferred maintenance costs.
According to the health authority's website, the organization employs more than 40,000 employees and is the largest organization in the province.
Health funding and how it relates to education of the region's children was a discussion topic at a recent Living Sky School Division meeting with MLAs Larry Doke and Herb Cox. As a result of a lack of services in some rural places, the school division is a de facto service provider, even though the division must spend its limited funds and must develop strategies that aren't traditionally responsibilities of school divisions. Director of Education Brenda Vickers also said after Living Sky students recently committed suicide, the school division carried out much of the crisis response.
Mental health funding was also a topic at the meeting. Doke said he hopes "we can do something there."
The Government of Saskatchewan is spending $5.77 billion on health for 2018-19, the highest it has ever spent. According to SHA CEO Scott Livingstone, $40.5 million is targeted funding directed to mental health, primary health care, connected care and other investments including HIV drug funding.
According to recent research by Margarita Wilkins and Ron Kneebone, high health care spending shouldn't necessarily be something governments ought to brag about. "Since the early 1980s, provincial government spending on health care, adjusted for inflation and population growth, with the exception of Quebec, has more than doubled."
The authors write, "over the past 37 years Canadian governments and voters have prioritized health over social spending." The authors argue "research on social determinants of health suggests that further investment in poverty reduction and housing yields higher rates of return in terms of improved health outcomes than additional investment in direct medical care."
People advocating for increased mental health funding has been widely reported in the media. Megan Pope, in writing a thesis for McGill University, summarized positions against increased government involvement in mental health matters:
"Critics of the welfare state argue that the government's and medical establishment's involvement in individual health is too far-reaching and that this impinges on personal freedoms and undermines the responsibility of individuals for their own health.
“Applied to mental health, arguments against state over involvement in health are closely aligned with the concept of the ‘therapeutic state,’ a term coined by psychiatry critic Thomas Szasz to refer to the state’s control of the populace through the medicalization of social problems and undesirable behaviours. For example, [Vanessa Pupavac of the University of Nottingham] contends that providing psychosocial interventions to war-affected populations by international governments and health agencies, while seemingly beneficent, actually individualizes social problems and pathologizes normal reactions to trauma.
“Furthermore, it reduces the legitimacy of local coping strategies and erodes natural support networks, such as those of families and communities.
“In a related vein, research within the field of gerontology has explored the ‘crowding out’ phenomenon, in which the formal supports provided by generous welfare state systems have long been thought to interfere with, or crowd out, informal, natural community supports and shift the responsibility for caring for the elderly from families and communities to the state."