Minister Greg Ottenbreit has had a busy visit to the border city.
The Saskatchewan Minister Responsible for Rural and Remote Health was in Lloydminster, Tuesday, January 12th, first and foremost, for the opening of the new Prairie North Health Centre. But afterwards, the Minister took the time to meet with the group that has been lobbying for advanced life support (ALS) paramedic services for the Lloydminster region, which is not currently offered by WPD Ambulance, the city’s main ambulance provider. The Lloydminster Concerned Citizens for Seniors’ Society met with Ottenbreit in place of the group’s regular Tuesday meeting.
The meeting was primarily to discuss long-term care in Lloydminster and the potential re-purposing of the old Dr. Cooke extended care center, but they also touched on the more immediate issue on the agenda for the Society: the lack of ALS paramedics in the city. Other key players attended the meeting including MLA, Colleen Young; CEO of the Lloydminster Region Health Foundation, Wendy Plandowsky; and Mayor Rob Saunders. Minister Ottenbreit’s opinion was that the issue of paramedic service isn’t a money issue, rather a bi-provincial administrative challenge.
LCCSCS President, Graham Brown, says he doesn’t think the ‘invisible line’ that divides the city between Saskatchewan and Alberta should be used as an excuse anymore and that’s the exact reason why we have high-paid administrative people, to resolve those issues.
On the other hand, with respect to the issue of extended care in the community, Ottenbreit said it definitely is a ‘money issue.’
“Alberta is in a financial struggle right now, Saskatchewan is doing quite a bit better,” says Ottenbreit.
“…but we have a lot of new facilities we’ve replaced and we’ve had a huge shortage in doctors and nurses and all kinds of medical professionals. We had a huge deficit in health infrastructure and many other types of infrastructure, when it comes to roads and schools and all the rest of it. We’ve been investing billions and billions of dollars over the last 8 years in Saskatchewan to start addressing a lot of those shortcomings.”
Minister Ottenbreit also met with representatives from WPD Ambulance Tuesday afternoon to discuss the current challenges they’re facing, and their concerns as they work on striking a contract with Prairie North Health Region to resolve the issue.