Cutting $10.82 million for chiropractic services out of a $4.202 billion health budget may seem like a drop in the bucket, but it adds up to a lot of people going without needed services, according to a petition presented in the legislature on budget day.
Opposition health critic Judy Junor read a list of 328 communities that collected signatures for a petition to keep chiropractic services from being de-insured, to no avail.
Instead of paying subsidized rates for visiting a chiropractor, patients will now have to pay the full amount.
However Don McMorris, minister of health, said there would be some help for patients who need it. "Lower income individuals will receive coverage for up to 12 treatments per year," he said in the budget address.
"We understand the importance of chiropractic care but we have to prioritize things," said Premier Brad Wall, pointing to the retention of health care professionals as a higher priority.
Other priorities include funding for autism services, early childhood development programming, and funding for the Irene and Leslie Dube Centre for Mental Health. Increasing funding to these programs means other programs and agencies have felt the brunt of cutbacks, including the Health Quality Council and the Saskatchewan Association of Health Organizations.
"With the $10.4 million cut, a lot of the costs will be passed down to chiropractic patients," said Shane Taylor, president of the Chiropractic Association of Saskatchewan. "With higher costs put on patients, patients will have to go to clinics or hospitals in search of care and this will put stress son a health care system that is already stressed."
The cut is "totally at oddsd with the government's Patient First review of the province's health system," stated a letter from the Chiropractics Patients of Saskatchewan to McMorris.
The Patient First Review, released in 2009 by commisioner Tony Dagnone under the title For Patients' Sake, called for equitable care and accessibility to health services.
Some 125,000 people used chiropractic services in the province last year. "It's interesting that 125,000 people...don't matter. It really annoys me," said Junor.
The Chiropractic Association will have to make administrative changes by April 1 to deal with the funding cut.
The government maintains that by increasing funding in other areas of the health care system, this will counterbalance the effects of cutting chiropractic services.