Classrooms, Care and Communities, is the theme for the 2024-25 provincial budget announced yesterday afternoon, hinting at some of the major focuses for the upcoming year. 

Healthcare and education are two areas that will be impacted locally to the southwest, including the commencement of a $37 million project at the Swift Current Comprehensive High School. 

That's the capital project that stands out to Swift Current MLA Everett Hindley.

"My understanding is that will be a significant renovation to the Comp. and something that is desperately needed there," he said. "So, we're grateful to be able to support the beginning of that particular project."

The Ministry of Education has allocated $1 million towards the planning of the renovations at the local high school. If Chinook School Division gets approved for the Ministry of Education's major capital funding grant for 2025-26, the much-needed upgrades can get underway. 

Funding for the provincial health care system is $7.6 billion for 2024-25, a 10.6 per cent increase over the previous year's budget. A major focus is expanding nurse practitioner resources, including hiring a nurse practitioner at one of Swift Current's physician clinics.

The Pharmacy Care Pilot Project, which launched in December, is being expanded in Swift Current. The program allows for select patients to utilize health care professionals other than physicians for specific medical treatment and upkeep. According to Hindley, at least 700 physician visits have been redirected since its inception, freeing up space for individuals who do need to see their primary care physician. 

Municipal revenue sharing has also been increased, amounting to $3.9 million for the City of Swift Current, up $494,000 or 14.3 per cent over the previous year. 

"I think we've made significant progress when it comes to filling some of the vacancies we have in the healthcare system, but there's more work to do," said Hindley. "I get emails and phone calls from healthcare workers in Swift Current that perhaps they haven't been able to secure permanent full-time work at our local hospital or perhaps at the Meadows Care Center. We want to continue to work with those frontline healthcare providers and with the SHA and our affiliate partners and the unions to make sure that we're trying to fill those gaps. That work will always continue.

"It's important for me as local MLA and as the Minister of Health to make sure that we are making investments like we've seen in the provincial budget that has come out now. But we know that there's still work that needs to be done and we'll keep doing that."