Saskatchewan reports progress in health care recruitment and training

Health Minister Everett Hindley says the province is making progress in meeting health care needs
Health Minister Everett Hindley says the province is making progress in meeting health care needsLee Harding

The Government of Saskatchewan says it's making progress on its Health Human Resources (HHR) Action Plan which received $141 million in this year's budget.

"Continued investment into our ambitious HHR Action Plan ensures Saskatchewan remains an attractive place for health care professionals to live and work," Health Minister Everett Hindley said.

"I am pleased to see steady progress being made on multiple initiatives to recruit, train, incentivize and retain more health professionals, strengthen health care teams and deliver improved patient care to residents in communities across the province." 

Several new incentives are available to support recruitment and retention of specialists in high demand:

  • An incentive package for anesthesia, which includes a relocation grant, as well as an annual incentive of $200,000 over five years for regional service and $100,000 over five years for urban service; 

  • An incentive of $200,000 over five years for regional service for psychiatry; and 

  • An incentive of $200,000 over five years for breast and interventional radiology in approved sites. 

An enhanced Rural Physician Incentive of up to $200,000 over five years has been offered since April 2023 to physicians who practice in rural and remote communities. To date, 256 potentially eligible applications have been received and 118 of these have been approved for payment.

A 550-seat training expansion began in 2023 in critical health training programs. As of January 2024, approximately 80% of the new seats were made available for the 2023-24 academic year, with more becoming available this year. 

This year's budget supports an additional 66 seats distributed across six training programs, including Registered Nursing, Registered Psychiatric Nursing and critical interprovincial training programs: Cardiology Technology, Diagnostic Cardiac Sonography, Nuclear Medicine Technology and Environmental Public Health.

Also Saskatchewan will get four new health training programs: Occupational Therapy, Speech Language Pathology, Physician Assistant, and Respiratory Therapy.

A $1.5 million allocation this year will support a new incentive to encouraging students enrolled in health care training programs in other provinces where Saskatchewan has invested in specific training seats to come home. The incentive will provide up to $15,000 per year of study for up to two years in exchange for a three years of work in Saskatchewan.

Undergraduate seats at the College of Medicine will increase from 104 to 108 in fall 2024, while postgraduate residency seats will increase from 128 to 140. Eight of these seats are targetted to urban family medicine and will be implemented by 2025. The other four are for specialties, such as the new Anesthesia and Dermatology seats in Regina. The College posted 135 seats in the 2024 residency match, which is currently underway.

Mental Health and Addictions, Seniors and Rural and Remote Health Minister Tim McLeod said the province wants to ensure people have medical help close to home.

"Our government has made it a priority to stabilize and strengthen health care in rural, regional and northern communities across the province, and ensure residents in these areas have access to important health services as close to home as possible," said McLeod.

This year's key HHR Action Plan spending includes $33.8 million to stabilize rural and remote staffing. To date, 232 of 250 targetted new and enhanced full-time positions have been filled in rural and remote areas.

The Rural and Remote Recruitment Incentive will receive $8.7 million to continue to fill hard-to-recruit positions. The program has seen 305 incentives provided so far. 

This year, eight more seats will be added to the Saskatchewan International Physician (SIPPA) program in addition to the 45 seats currently within the program, to help bring more physicians to regional, rural and northern communities. More than 300 physicians currently practice in the province thanks to SIPPA.

The province presented other HHR progress updates:

  • 1,097 nursing graduates from Saskatchewan and out-of-province have been hired since December 2022. 

  • 225 internationally educated health professionals from the Philippines have arrived in Saskatchewan and 135 of these, the majority nurses, are now working in communities across the province.

  • The Final Clinical Placement Bursary, assisting students preparing for a career in health care saw a high level of interest with 196 applications approved for payment as of March 31, 2024.

  • The Saskatchewan Health care Recruitment Agency has participated in eight provincial, three national and two international recruitment events and hosted seven virtual recruitment events.

Details on health care opportunities, how to access them and more information on the province's HHR Action Plan are available at

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