A Saskatoon software developer creates a map of Saskatchewan. health service disruptions

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A full-service software developer in Saskatoon took the initiative to create a web map of service outages of Saskatchewan Health Authority facilities.

“I have seen that there are a lot of hospital service disruptions in the province right now and there have been for some time and I want to make them more visible to the general public,” Joel Hill said.

Hill said he was inspired by a local doctor who tweeted a photo of a map that was put together manually using pens.

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Hill found he could automate the process, taking the skills he uses daily and putting them to use for something the public can access.

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It took him about a month to implement the project in his free time.

The website launched on Sunday and Hill estimates that a few hundred people viewed it the day it was launched.

“About once a day I make an HTTP request to the SHA website, specifically the page where they list all their outages. I look at the HTML that was sent back to me and I go there and I extract the elements of information that I need.

The SHA posts service outages of seven days or more on its website.

Hill sees this as a problem.

“I think one solution to this is to rely on the web app – having an internet form where someone can submit a photo of a sign of a breakdown or report that a breakdown is in progress and then the ‘display next to official SHA data.”

Short-term disruptions are shared locally through posters, communications with city leaders, and other local contacts such as social media.


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Growing emotional, Hill said he cared about his friends, family and the province.

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“I just wanted to do what I could to help. It’s a small thing, but hopefully it will do some good,” Hill said.

He said his father cultivated one hour from a hospital.

“If something happens to him, where will he go if we don’t have a hospital?”

His sister is also expecting her first child.

“It’s only exciting when you know the people you care about are going to be taken care of and we don’t know that right now. I want people to pay attention and I want people to know there’s has a problem,” Hill said.

“The more people who know there is a problem, the more people will speak up and help solve it – that’s what I’m trying to do here.”

The Saskatchewan NDP also raised issues with the health care system during its press conference on Thursday,

Official Opposition Leader Carla Beck says the government has only spent some of the money it received from Ottawa earlier this year to deal with pressures on the health care system related to the pandemic, such as the backlog of surgeries, medical procedures and diagnostics.

Earlier this week, Saskatchewan Finance Minister Donna Harpauer announced that the government expects a surplus of $1.04 billion for 2022-23. As part of an affordability plan, the government will send a $500 tax credit to residents aged 18 and over.

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Harpauer said the government was not using the $450 million it was spending on checks for education and health care because if natural resource prices fell, there wouldn’t be enough income to support ongoing additional expenses.

Beck mentioned other ideas, such as posting permanent full-time positions rather than temporary part-time positions.

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Global News contacted the Department of Health, which did not respond by the deadline.

Hill said his app was just a “small part of what is hopefully a bigger solution.”

He said people need to start holding government leaders accountable for the problem.

“Our leaders are not going to change course or do anything until we ask them better.”

— with files from Andrew Benson of Global and The Canadian Press

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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