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Province denies $2M donation intended to bring MRI service to Estevan

The province is defending its decision to turn down a donation worth $2 million intended for a new MRI machine at St. Joseph's Hospital in Estevan.

Elaine Walkom – the woman who made the donation – said she was blown away by the government’s response.

“They said operating costs are going to be too high and we don’t think the population is there you know, other cities get it first, that sort of thing,” she told CTV News. “So that just kind of blew us away."

In a letter to Walkom, former Heath Minister Paul Merriman thanked her for the offer but said there are “no immediate plans to expand MRI services to St. Joseph’s Hospital.”

The province echoed Merriman’s sentiments in a statement to CTV News on Tuesday.

“We thank Ms. Elaine Walkom for her generosity and for her interest in contributing to health care in Estevan,” a statement from the province read.

“The Ministry of Health looks forward to further discussing opportunities to advance health care services in Estevan with Ms. Walkom and St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation in the near future.”

For Walkom, the experience has left her reflecting on her decision.

“I was pretty naïve because I thought with a donation like that to give to the government I thought 'Well they’ll be happy to have and we’ll get this done,'” she said.

Copies of the government’s correspondences were obtained and made public by the Buffalo Party.

“The community is on fire and I totally agree with them,” Buffalo Party Leader Phil Zajac told CTV News.

“I think small town Saskatchewan is under attack – they’re trying to force people to move and this is just another thing that will enhance the community and embolden it to take better care of its residents.”

The official opposition didn’t mince words over the government’s decision.

“This is ridiculous. Just get this done. We’re talking about a local citizen stepping up to donate $2 million to solve a problem, and you’ve got Scott Moe and his ministers getting in the way,” Saskatchewan NDP Leader Carla Beck said in a statement.

“It’s just one more example of the Sask. Party making everything worse and thinking they know better than all the communities that desperately need this MRI machine. Clearly it's time for a government that actually listens and gets things done.”

The provincial government encouraged Walkom to donate her money toward a different need at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Estevan.

She said she won’t do that because she believes southeastern Saskatchewan needs MRI services. Top Stories

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