What do you think is one of the most urgent issues facing Saskatchewan today? And what can we do about it?
The answer: eliminate preventable injuries in the province.
Did you know last year there were 158,000 injuries and 330 deaths that could have been prevented last year in Saskatchewan? Those numbers come from a population of just over one million people - about 500,000 working people. It's hard to imagine.
Over 30,000 injuries have already happened this year and it seems like the year has just begun.
The CEO of a nonprofit organization called Safe Saskatchewan spoke to a group of Sun Country Health Region managers recently about these injuries. Gord Moker pointed out that Saskatchewan has the highest rate of preventable injuries in Canada; 18 people every day.
We have a particularly high rate in Sun Country Health Region. Here, in 2010/2011, the over-all injury hospitalization rate in SCHR was 1,061 per 100,000. The Saskatchewan rate was much lower at 772 per 100,000 and Canada's rate was 514 per 100,000.
Many of those are workplace injuries, about 40 per cent, which is a message the workplace needs to hear far more often.
But a lot of them happen after work also. As Gord points out, it's safer to stay at work in Saskatchewan than to go home. About 100,000 of those injuries happen after work. Four times more people are permanently disabled after injuries off the job and five times as many people are killed from injuries off the job as those that occur in the workplace.
If the pain and suffering doesn't get your attention when you see these numbers, maybe the dollars will. Safe Saskatchewan estimates the cost to the provincial economy is about $1 billion every year. Gord estimates the Ministry of Health could save $100 million in health care costs every year if the 9,800 hospitalizations from preventable injuries were eliminated.
Mission Zero - to eliminate all injuries - is a goal created by Safe Saskatchewan and adopted by the provincial government and many organizations in Saskatchewan. Have you thought seriously about changing your behavior at home or in your workplace? What about your habits on the road, where almost half of the 330 deaths occur every year? Are you a safe driver? If not now, when?