Saskatchewan

Sask. wait times drop thanks to private clinics: Janice MacKinnon

The province's former finance minister, Janice MacKinnon, says the use of private for-profit clinics has helped Saskatchewan to reduce its wait times.

Former NDP Finance Minister authors new study in Fraser Report

Government of Saskatchewan statistics from 2014 show a 75 per cent drop in the number of patients waiting longer than three months for treatment. (iStock)

The province's former finance minister, Janice MacKinnon, says the use of private for-profit clinics has helped Saskatchewan to reduce surgical wait times.

The former NDP cabinet minister says the province has succeeded in driving down wait times for patients by adopting "practical solutions rather than ideological preferences."

MacKinnon's study is published today by the Fraser Institute and cites government statistics from 2014 which show a 75 per cent decline in the number of patients waiting longer than three months for treatment.

Former NDP finance minister, Janice MacKinnon, says Saskatchewan has turned its wait times around, in part, by using private clinics. (Fraser Institute)

In the study, MacKinnon argues that there were several key reforms that aided in the initiative's success.

They include pooling referrals for medical treatment to allow patients to compare wait times when choosing a doctor, as well as focusing on patients rather than health care providers.

MacKinnon says contracting out day surgeries to private, for-profit clinics was a critical reform.

She says the government's transparency in selecting the private clinics as well as proving that they cost less per procedure, on average, than the public system was key to blunting any criticism about their use.

"Because they only do one or two procedures, they're very good, very fast at it," MacKinnon said. "The other advantage of using clinics is that you're less likely to get a hospital-based infection."

However, the study notes that the government's surgical initiative only reduced wait lists for elective surgery. It says long waits persist in other areas.

It also notes it worked in part by "pouring more money into an already expensive health-care system."