Two letters this week, one to the Minister of Health and the other a letter to the Editor, Star Phoenix. We participated in a recent protest of the elimination of the Saskatchewan Hearing Aid Plan, a service Jim has used since he was six years old. For us, it wasn’t free (as it is for people on social assistance). The HAP is a valuable collection of services including audiology, hearing aid fittings and follow-up, education, early intervention, support and advocacy. It served 40,000 people throughout the province. The government, in current slash and burn mode, says for-profit audiologists and clinics can pick up the load. Apparently there was consultations with them and the government responded to their concerns about feeling “left out” on clients served by SHAP, which operates on a break even basis. An assistant in the Ministry called me to say that private audiologists and clinics will offer “competitive prices.” We wonder where Jim will fall on the inevitable waiting list?
Part of my letter to the Minister of Health:
“Because of the ongoing support and expert audiology care Jim has received, he contributes to the YMCA, to a network of friends, and to the city. He was a valued volunteer with Mayor Clark’s campaign, and contributes to projects like the Darcy Bear Community Garden. He enjoys his season ticket to Persephone Theatre. He’s a big Fringe fan, and he has been a volunteer with the Broadway BBID. A large measure of Jim’s success is that his hearing loss has been monitored, accommodated and supported by ongoing services from SHAP that have reflected Jim’s changing physiology and social needs as he grew to adulthood.
It is not enough to suggest that children will be looked after, and that others will simply switch over to private audiologists. Waiting lists will become ridiculous. Audiology services and the augmentation of hearing loss is a life-long health issue. Consistent monitoring and follow-up are vital to ensuring hearing loss does not create barriers to anyone’s ability to contribute to life in this province. Services and support not provided to youth, adults and seniors create ripples that affect health, educational success, social interaction and employment opportunities. Many of the province’s most vulnerable adults are ill-equipped to advocate for their own needs with respect to hearing loss. Hoping that the for-profit system will adequately serve people is ill-advised.”