COLUMN: Victoria Jurgens — April 29, 2014

Victoria Jurgens
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Our health system has made tremendous strides toward providing surgical care sooner, safer and smarter since the Saskatchewan Surgical Initiative began in March 2010.  Health regions have been successful in implementing processes to sustain shorter waits and safety improvements for both patients and health care providers.

The goal of the Surgical Initiative, which is now nearing the end of its four-year transformation effort, is to offer patients a procedure within three months of the decision to proceed with surgery.  Updated statistics show that during the period Dec. 1, 2013 to Feb. 28, 2014, almost 81 per cent of patients received a procedure within three months.  Almost 94 per cent received surgery within six months.  By improving the surgical experience, we continue to put patients first.

Information about the Surgical Initiative is available at sasksurgery.ca.  The website also features the Specialist Directory, which empowers patients and their primary care providers to compare options for surgical care.

Our government has further empowered Saskatchewan families by making Personal Care Home inspection results available online. Recent changes to legislation now allow inspection information to be shared with the public.

By being able to review the most recent inspection results, families will be well informed when selecting a personal care home.  This change also provides increased incentive for operators to provide the best care possible. You can now view personal care home inspection reports online at saskatchewan.ca/live/health-and-healthy-living/manage-your-health-needs.

Our government has also implemented a new system for publicly reporting expenses related to out-of-province travel for cabinet ministers and the government staff who accompany them. This new reporting system features semi-annual expense reports and includes a list of meetings the minister attended on behalf of our province.

Out-of-province travel is an important part of a minister’s job as it’s how we increase exports; build our economy and learn about best practices in other provinces and countries around the world.  At the same time, the public has a right to know the cost and purpose of these trips and that their tax dollars are being spent efficiently.

In all that we do, our government remains focused on being accountable to the people of Saskatchewan.  We are focused on watching our bottom line and will continue to look for ways to do things better.

After a year that saw an extremely high rate of injuries and fatalities on Saskatchewan’s roads, our government formed a Special Committee on Traffic Safety. Out of concern for everyone’s safety, the committee put forth recommendations from which new traffic safety laws have been formulated.  These new laws will come into effect June 27, 2014.

Harsher penalties are aimed at deterring the unsafe choices some drivers are making and we would like them to think twice before making a bad decision, like getting behind the wheel after drinking.  Instead of the current 30 day license suspension, new drivers caught driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs will face a 60 day license suspension and will have their vehicle seized for three days. That is just for a first offence – penalties increase based on the number of offences. 

Experienced drivers will also face longer licence suspensions and vehicle seizures. Convicted impaired drivers will face mandatory, user-pay installation of an ignition interlock device on their vehicle for a minimum nine months on a first offence and up to five years for subsequent offences.  Drug-impaired drivers will face the same consequences as drinking drivers.

Drivers caught using their cellphone while driving for the second time within a year will have their vehicle seized for up to seven days. 

Drivers will face harsher penalties when they’re travelling 35 km/h or more over the speed limit compared to the current 50 km/h.

Additional changes to traffic laws may be reviewed at sgi.sk.ca.

 

Seniors can celebrate spring with visits to family and friends using the Saskatchewan Transportation Company.  For the month of May, seniors 60 and over can ride anywhere STC travels for $12 one-way. STC travels to more than 250 communities in Saskatchewan.

Seniors can pick up their passes at any STC agency and should bring their identification with them at the time of purchase.  Seniors took more than 10,000 trips during the spring seat sale in 2013.

 

Victoria Jurgens is the MLA for Prince Albert Northcote. Constituents are always welcome to contact her office by calling 306-922-4220.  You may also visit her website at http://mlajurgens.ca or email mlajurgens@sasktel.net.  Her office is located at 5A 598 15th St. E. across from Superstore.

 

Organizations: Saskatchewan Surgical Initiative, Saskatchewan Transportation Company, Special Committee on Traffic Safety STC agency

Geographic location: Saskatchewan

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