Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Invest in public hospitals, help poor — Saskatchewan polls

57 percent oppose investing public funds in private clinics.

Public Values
Saskatoon, SK (January 6, 2011)

A Viewpoints Research poll commissioned by Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Saskatchewan reveals that 60.4 percent of the province's residents want the government to reduce surgical wait times by investing in the public hospital system. Most of the poll's respondents were "critical of the government's decision to postpone construction of a new outpatient surgical clinic in Regina," says CUPE. The hospital was supposed to be completed in 2010, but the government opted to spend $5.5 million on private surgical clinics instead.

The poll shows that 56.8 percent of Saskatchewan's residents oppose investing public funds in private clinics.

"Public support for giving low-income people a break is strong."

Saskatchewan Health Minister Don McMorris says the province "fully supports publicly funded and administered health care," but that parts of the system involve the private sector. "It's really important that people realize that there's public delivery within the private system."

An Angus Reid Public Opinion poll recently found that in Saskatchewan, 50 percent of survey respondents "rated the delivery and maintenance of health care services across the province as 'good.'"

The poll asked participants to identify whether they were satisfied or dissatisfied with their experience on their last visit to a family doctor or general practitioner, to a specialist, to an advanced diagnostics testing centre, and to a hospital for an overnight stay. Levels of satisfaction in Saskatchewan ranged between 83 and 92 percent. The province's residents, however, are not so satisfied with the state of emergency rooms, with only 65 percent saying they were satisfied with their last visit.

CUPE partnered with the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) to commission a survey on pension plans. The Environics Research Group poll found that "more than three quarters of Canadians in the Prairies support increasing Canada Pension Plan benefits."

Three in ten survey respondents are not saving for retirement because they cannot afford to while the same number of people also believe they won't have enough to live comfortably after retirement.

"If action is not taken now, poverty will become a dire reality for more and more elderly Canadians," says John Gordon, PSAC's National President.

To even things out a bit, Saskatchewan residents think that the provincial government should increase royalty rates on natural resources. A Viewpoints Research poll shows that the people of Saskatchewan also "believe resource companies should pay higher royalty rates if they move head office jobs out of the province." CUPE Saskatchewan president Tom Graham says, "The majority of residents believe resource companies need to contribute more to Saskatchewan's economy."

He says "the poll found strong public support for giving low-income people a break."

Poverty is an issue at home and abroad for Saskatchewan residents. According to an Angus Reid Public Opinion poll, 44 percent ranked global poverty as the most important global issue facing the world today.

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