Provincial government touts increase in surgeries, NDP say numbers don’t paint full picture

Herald file photo. The Saskatchewan Legislature.

Saskatchewan surgeons performed nearly 6,000 more surgeries in 2023-24 than they did in 2022-23, surpassing last year’s record, but the provincial NDP says those numbers don’t paint a full picture of what’s happening in Saskatchewan.

Between April 1, 2023 and March 31, 2024, there were more than 95,700 surgeries performed in the province. The number of patients waiting for surgeries also dropped by about 14 per cent during that time, according to provincial data, with 4,600 fewer patients waiting for surgeries compared to the year before.

“Our surgical teams are making significant strides in ensuring patients receive timely surgical procedures,” Health Minister Everett Hindley said in a press release. Our government continues to make record investments in human resources to increase capacity in our surgical systems and address wait times.”

The number of people waiting 18 months for surgery has also decreased by 67 per cent. The SHA said in a press release that there is a strong plan in place to continue the momentum into the next year.

That includes developing improvements for orthopedics, investing in health human resources, and expanding the involvement of private sector partners in surgical deliveries.

“These initiatives are helping to reduce wait times overall and, in the case of hip and knee replacements, providing access to the next available surgeon more quickly, while providing patients more choice in making decisions that work for them alongside their surgical team,” SHA Provincial Surgical Services Executive Director Cindy Graham said in a press release. “The SHA continues to focus on providing efficient, timely and universal access to surgical services to the people of Saskatchewan.”

However, NDP health critic Vicki Mowat said the province is still behind the rest of the country, and accused the province of caring more about their donors than patients.

Mowat pointed to numbers from the Canadian Institute for Health Information, which show Saskatchewan trailing the Canadian average for hip and knee replacements, as proof the province was still struggling with surgical wait times. She also questioned any plans to use private sector partners.

“The latest national data shows that Saskatchewan still has the longest average wait times for key procedures like knee and hip replacements,” Mowat said in a statement released on Tuesday. “It’s also now clear that the provincial government could be performing more surgeries if they weren’t sending patients to a Sask. Party donor in Calgary.

“The Sask. Party’s Calgary-based donor has only performed 90 surgeries in the past year, despite getting a $6 million sweetheart deal to perform 250. That money should be invested in Saskatchewan health workers and Saskatchewan hospitals, not Sask. Party friends and insiders.”

“This province used to be a nation-leader when it came to healthcare,” Official Opposition Leader Carla Beck added. “Saskatchewan people rightly expect that their tax dollars support Saskatchewan health workers and Saskatchewan hospitals, not Sask. Party donors in Calgary.”