REGINA -- The Saskatchewan NDP promised to end queue-jumping on the MRI waiting list if elected to government.

Currently, patients can move to the front of the line if they agree to pay for their own, and for someone else’s MRI. Ryan Meili, the leader of the NDP, said waiting lists have doubled under this two tiered system.

“You know, as a family doctor, one if the things I’m most proud of is when patients came to see me, I got to ask them how they’re feeling, not how they’re paying. It’s very distressing to see us go down a different road,” Meili said.

Ricki Steffen, a Regina woman with a degenerative bone disease, is currently in line and said she cannot get in to see a specialist or pay for a MRI test.

“Even if, which I don’t have the $3,000 to pay, but even if I had that, I don’t think that’s ethical,” Steffen said.

Her bone disease has progressed this summer, to the point where she needs help getting down the stairs of her home. She said she cant even access her previous medical records because some specialists have closed their offices.

“I understand COVID is a highly contagious virus but as far as COVID goes, the fatality rate doesn’t supersede conditions like cancer, my condition, degenerative joint and disc disease, it doesn’t supersede heart attacks or stroke so why were specialists closed,” Steffen said.

Meili said the MRI wait list has doubled to 10,000 people over the years. However, the premier said the rise can be attributed to COVID-19.

“Over the course of the past few months as we deal with the Global pandemic, waiting’s lists for diagnostics and surgeries have increased across this nation. This is something that most certainly needs to be addressed as we find ourselves what we hopefully feel is on the backside of this virus,” Scott Moe, the Premier of Saskatchewan, said.

The premier said MRIs have recently resumed to the pre-COVID-19 rate and there is funding on standby to ramp up the number of surgeries.