Saskatchewan

Sask. health minister admits government likely won't meet target on wait times

The Saskatchewan government pledged to cut emergency department wait times by 60 per cent in the next two years but are not on track to reach their target.

Opposition says budget to blame for likelihood 60 per cent wait time reduction won't be met by 2019

Health Minister Jim Reiter says as a government, they need to do better. (CBC)

The Saskatchewan government pledged to cut emergency department wait times by 60 per cent in the next two years but is not on track to reach their target, the health minister says.

On Tuesday, Jim Reiter admitted the goal set for 2019 will likely not be met.

"I don't think we're failing but we're certainly not improving to the extent that we wanted to," he told reporters. "We set some pretty aggressive targets that are going to be very difficult to meet.

"We have to do better."

Reiter said part of the problem is unanticipated volume increases at hospitals in the province. He also blames the province's current fiscal situation.

"While just throwing money at the issue isn't the only answer, some of the innovative stuff we're trying to do does cost money," he said. "It's a complex issue right across the country. All provinces are facing it.

"We set an aggressive target. We're likely not going to meet it but we're still going to work really hard to try and improve."

Opposition health critic Danielle Chartier says the broken promise is costing the system a lot of money. (CBC News)
Opposition health critic Danielle Chartier said the government hasn't put resources in place to meet the goal.

"It costs our system a lot of money," said Chartier. "And aside from costing our system a lot of money, it hurts people and has a real impact on them.

"I think many of the things that the government has done in this budget are not helpful."

Specifically, she said cutting the budget for Health Quality Council, which works on data collection and data monitoring, has had an impact.

"That kind of work is really important," she said.

In 2012, Premier Brad Wall  promised to end emergency room wait times in Saskatchewan hospitals by 2017.

The promise was adapted to a 60 per cent reduction by 2019 in March of 2015.

The government has not yet changed their goal in light of their performance related to wait times.

"At some point we'll have to," Reiter said. "We recognize they were very aggressive and we'll probably have to adjust them."

With files from Stefani Langenegger

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