Report from the Legislature May 3, 2018

May 3, 2018

The ability to see a doctor, whether they are a specialist or a general practitioner, is one of the most important aspects of our health care system.

Our government prioritized physician recruitment and retention upon coming to office in 2007, and since then we’ve seen nearly 900 more doctors – a 51% increase. This includes significant increases in general practitioners (43%), specialists (62%), pediatricians (98%) and psychiatrists (37%).

The number of pediatricians practicing in Saskatchewan has increased from 62 to 123 since 2007, with more on the way before the opening of the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital in 2019.

A number of physician recruitment and retention initiatives have resulted in more than 2,600 physicians licensed to practice in the province, including:

  • one of the best physician compensation rates in the country;
  • training more doctors in Saskatchewan by increasing the College of Medicine’s undergraduate seats from 60 to 100, and doubling the number of medical residency positions to 120;
  • establishing more family medicine resident training sites outside of Regina and Saskatoon, including sites in Prince Albert, Swift Current, La Ronge, North Battleford and Moose Jaw, which has led to a 79% retention rate for family physicians; and
  • recruiting more than 200 internationally trained physicians, 77% of whom are working in rural or regional communities. 

We have made huge strides over the past decade which means better care that can be accessed closer to home for many of Saskatchewan’s rural residents. While we are pleased with this level of growth, we continue to work with health sector partners to recruit for vacant positions across the province.

Our government is also committed to taking steps to improve Saskatchewan’s organ and tissue donation rates. In addition to establishing a leadership model for organ and tissue donation, including donor physicians and Registered Nurse donor coordinators, we recently launched an advertising campaign to remind Saskatchewan residents that agreeing to be an organ donor saves lives.

This year, our awareness campaign is highlighting three Saskatchewan families whose prayers for an organ transplant were answered. These stories describe the pressing need for a matching donor, and the relief that came when a matching organ became available. Visit www.saskatchewan.ca to learn more.

A new tax deferral program – a 2016 Election platform commitment – has been created to help Saskatchewan seniors. The Seniors Education Property Tax Deferral Program will give Saskatchewan seniors with household incomes under $70,000 the option to defer the education portion of the property taxes on their home through a repayable loan.

Seniors are eligible for the program if they:

  • are 65 years of age or older;
  • own and live in their home as their main residence in Saskatchewan;
  • have total household income below $70,000; and
  • maintain a minimum of 25 per cent equity in their home. 
For more information, call 306-787-4177 or 1-800-667-7567, email repairstaff@gov.sk.ca or visit www.saskatchewan.ca/residents/taxes-and-investments/property-taxes/seniors-education-property-tax-deferral-program.