It has been a year of big changes for Steinbach Member of the Legislature Kelvin Goertzen. He completed a very intense two-and-a-half years as Minister of Health on August 1st when Premier Brian Pallister announced a cabinet shuffle and made him Minister of Education. Goertzen reflects on his year of adjustment and change.
"The Ministry of Health is a very emotional file. I think everyone would say that health is the most important thing that you have. But, no question, you are always in the spotlight. Education, I think the hours are equally as challenging but the emotions are a little bit less. I also took on the role of House Leader so when the House is sitting, that's a significant role."
Goertzen says it was a massive challenge for him to make changes to the health care system to make it better. But he adds it has been worthwhile as reports are now coming in about the positive impact they are having.
"I really enjoyed learning about the great people in health and the great work that they do, trying to bring change to a difficult system, a system that isn't always embracing of change. I think we are seeing some of the positive results of that and I think it's great."
He recalls a specific point of clarity about the Health portfolio when he was about seven or eight months into the job and staff were beginning to get comfortable in talking to him about ways to make the system better.
"I remember asking one of the doctors, who had been around for 20 years, who gave a fairly lengthy presentation on things that needed to change in the health system from their perspective, and I said: Well how long have you been dreaming of this? It sounds like you have been thinking about this for while. He said, I've been trying to advance this for 20 years. It was, for me, a recognition that while change is hard on the health care system and there's going to be resistance, there are a lot of people who knew that the system needed change and had been frustrated by the unwillingness of previous administrations to make those changes."
Goertzen says he hopes to be able to make positive changes in education in the coming years.
"We're looking to make changes there as well but that will be a longer process over the next year. I think anytime you can look at something and try to better it, it gives you a good reason to get up in the morning."