Many have expressed shock at the province's decision to reject a $2 million donation to bring MRI services to Estevan.

But the director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives' Saskatchewan chapter says there are challenges that come with relying on charity for healthcare infrastructure.

"I can understand why people would be kind of perplexed as to why the government wouldn't take this," said Simon Enoch.

"As some of the challenges of accepting private charity for health infrastructure is first of all, we haven't deliberated on it democratically. We don't know if that's the most high-urgent need in Estevan. We don't know if the cost can be covered. Say it's $2 million now, how long will it take to operate this thing, to hire someone to maintain it? What happens when that money runs out?"

Epoch said private sector philanthropy creates disparities between services offered in more affluent communities versus communities that aren't as rich in resources.

He and Emily Eaton co-authored the 2018 study, 'A Prairie Patchwork: Reliance on Oil Industry Philanthropy in Saskatchewan Boom Towns.'

"What we found was that communities that had prominent oil strikes... they were able to afford top-of-the-line firefighting equipment, emergency rescue, things like that, versus other communities that [they] might be right beside."

Epoch said the big question is whether you want to have a more consistent offering of services, but pay higher taxes, or accept that services might vary from place to place while banking on the generosity of the private sector.

"I think the Germans sum it up as 'we don't do charity in Germany, we pay taxes. Charity is a failure of government responsibility.' So the idea there is that if there's something wrong in society that needs addressing, it should be government that does it democratically through our representatives rather than through the even good intentions of wealthy individuals."

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