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Health minister confirms Saskatchewan kids hospital will be expanded

REGINA - Health Minister Dustin Duncan says the new Children's Hospital of Saskatchewan will be expanded just one day after acknowledging that the facility might be too small. Duncan said more beds will be added and the overall size of the Saskatoon-based hospital could grow too. "Essentially what will take place is, because this isn't a rewrite of the entire plans, basically a wall will be shifted, that changes the footprint," Duncan said Thursday at the legislature. He said the cost of the hospital will be announced next week.

Saskatchewan nurses want protection if they speak out about Lean program

REGINA - The Saskatchewan Union of Nurses wants the government to protect nurses from recrimination if they choose to speak out about a program that looks for ways to reduce health spending and streamline care. The union has asked the Ministry of Health to issue a letter which protects nurses from repercussions if they voice concerns over patient safety. NDP Leader Cam Broten backed the demand for the letter, and called for an investigation into the matter.

NDP calls for provincial auditor review of travel costs by cabinet ministers

REGINA - The Opposition NDP is calling for the provincial auditor to investigate travel costs by Saskatchewan cabinet ministers. NDP Leader Cam Broten (BROH'-tin) says an independent investigation could look at the costs and policies for travel and give clear recommendations for moving forward. Central Services Minister Nancy Heppner says the government has changed the policy to make travel costs public going forward. Travel expenses have been under scrutiny since it came to light that two ministers spent more than $7,000 for car service on trips to London last June.

Wall says NDP should apologize for suggesting Lean program is cult-like

REGINA - Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says Opposition NDP Leader Cam Broten should apologize for suggesting that people who support a program, known as Lean, are like cult members. The province is paying $40 million over four years for Lean consultants, who look for ways to reduce spending and streamline health care. Broten notes that the province paid $3,500 a day for Japanese sensei to teach Lean techniques and he's questioning why the program includes Japanese cultural training. Broten also says workers are flooding his email with their opinions.

NDP, Saskatchewan government concerned about child fire deaths on reserves

REGINA - Concerns are being raised in Saskatchewan about the number of First Nations children dying in fires. Opposition NDP Leader Cam Broten said in the legislature Monday that four children have died in fires on Saskatchewan reserves since September. Broten also noted that a study commissioned by the federal government suggested First Nations people are 10 times more likely to die in a fire than the rest of the population. "When you hear stories of two children dying and the fire truck not being able to start and go provide some help, that is not acceptable," said Broten.

Saskatchewan government selling casinos to First Nations: NDP

REGINA - The Opposition says the Saskatchewan government has made a deal to sell Casino Regina and Casino Moose Jaw to the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority. The NDP says in a news release that the government gave the Opposition a briefing on the sale last Thursday, but wouldn't provide a copy of the memorandum of understanding. The New Democrats say the government said the sale price would be between $100 million and $200 million. NDP Leader Cam Broten (BRO'-tin) says the government should release full details of the agreement.

Saskatchewan NDP says 2013 was important year; looks to make strides in 2014

REGINA - Saskatchewan New Democrats took steps to rebuild the party in 2013 with the election of a new leader. Saskatoon MLA Cam Broten, whose grandfather served alongside former premiers Tommy Douglas and Woodrow Lloyd, took over a party in March that holds just nine of 58 seats in the legislature. Broten says 2013 was an important and productive year for the party. In the spring, Saskatchewan passed legislation the NDP leader introduced that makes reporting of asbestos in public buildings mandatory.

Health and education top Saskatchewan to-do list in throne speech

REGINA - In an effort to cut emergency room backlogs, the Saskatchewan government is planning to focus on helping people who repeatedly show up in hospital ERs. The throne speech Wednesday outlined "hot spotting" pilot programs for Saskatoon and Regina as one way to tackle new pressures that growth has put on health care and education. In a news conference before the throne speech was read in the legislature, Premier Brad Wall said the top five users of emergency rooms accounted for more than 500 visits to ERs last year.

New labour, liquor laws passed as Saskatchewan legislature ends spring sitting

REGINA - The spring sitting of the Saskatchewan legislature has wrapped up after debate on labour laws, private liquor stores, the sale of a Crown corporation and seniors care. Fifty-three pieces of legislation were passed, including one private member's bill to make reporting of asbestos in public buildings mandatory. Premier Brad Wall says he thinks the most important part of the sitting was tabling a balanced budget. "We made some difficult choices to get there," Wall said Thursday.
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