Kaeding says message got through

July 20, 2022, 9:51 am
Kevin Weedmark

Melville-Saltcoats MLA Warren Kaeding

Melville-Saltcoats MLA Warren Kaeding says he believes the message the Esterhazy community wanted to get through to Rural Health Minister Everett Hindley and SHA officials about Esterhazy’s health care facility definitely got through during a visit to Esterhazy on Wednesday.

Saskatchewan Rural Health Minister Everett Hindley, Saskatchewan Health Authority officials and Melville-Saltcoats MLA Warren Kaeding visited Esterhazy Wednesday. The community has raised funds for a new health care facility and is waiting on funding from the provincial government to proceed.

The officials toured The Mosaic Esterhazy mine and local Health facilities. They met with St. Anthony’s Health Foundation and Esterhazy Economic Development and Council to discuss Esterhazy and area growth potential and potential of a new integrated Health facility.

“The health foundation, the EDC, and myself, have all been working hard on trying to get this integrated facility built in Esterhazy,” Kaeding said.

“Don Hood was integral in inviting a couple of officials from the ministry to come out originally. Then, we just expanded on who we wanted to include in the list and the ministry and SHA had offered some folks to come out for this tour. It just built from there. I know I had a good relationship with Minister Hindley and certainly had encouraged him to come out and get a view of the area and understand what Esterhazy was hoping to accomplish. It was a very good day. We had a great cross section of people from the Ministry and the SHA and everyone was very welcomed. There were great presentations, it really represented the community and area very well.

“I believe the message did get across very well. I think what really resonated and what I often tell my colleagues in caucus is that this area is a bit extraordinary in that it is a very stable area in growth and economic development. We are not simply relying on one resource to get us through the next 50 years. It is a great mix of manufacturing and mining and farming. That is ultimately what we wanted to show everyone—to show them that an investment in this area is not something that is going to be a waste in the next 50 years.”

He said one important part of the visit was showing the minister the condition of the current facility and demonstrating a need for a new facility.

“We don’t want to reduce rural healthcare in Saskatchewan, we want to maintain and hopefully expand facilities around the province, and we need good facilities and we need to replace those that need replacing. We certainly want to ensure that what we have now we don’t lose, and if we can build and expand on that, that we would do that.

“The group did a really good job at showing the demographics of the area. We have got a very young population, our school is just bursting at the seams, the kindergarten class now is just huge. So that is great for the future, but we also have a significant number of seniors that have just decided to stay in here. They’ve made their home here, they want to live out their lives here and we need to ensure we have services that cover both sides of the demographic spectrum.

“The one fact that came through is just what the working population of Esterhazy is every day. You take into account the employees at Mosaic and at Nutrien, but also the secondary businesses they may be supporting, and all the other businesses that are a result of that. We literally double the population of Esterhazy every day by the number of employees working in and around our community. That to me was just huge.”

He said now that the community has made its case, the government will have to decide if planning for Esterhazy’s new facility will be included in the 2023 budget.

“They have made their case very well. Now it is really up to the budgeting and the government has to decide. They have got some huge decisions to make in front of them on where they are going to spend the limited capital dollars that we have available for projects such as the Integrated Care Facility here, realizing that Yorkton needs a new health care facility—the planning is underway for that—and there are certainly a number of other priorities across the province, whether it is further investment in the towns or the schools or better long-term health care facilities. There is a pretty long list, but I think our folks did a pretty good job of positioning Esterhazy as why we need to be one of the priorities.”

Kaeding says he is optimistic that there will be an announcement coming on Esterhazy’s new facility.

“I am optimistic that we will hear an announcement that there will be a commitment here,” he said. “Certainly looking at the facilities they are in need of replacement. You can’t keep putting a bandaid on some of these facilities, they have literally come to their end of their life, but again there is a number of priorities the government has to decide on, but I am optimistic that we are going to be near the top of the list.”