The Saskatchewan government and the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) have outlined their budget for 2023-24 and it includes nearly $5 billion in funding.
On Thursday, the SHA board of directors approved a $4.82-billion operating budget for the 2023-24 fiscal year, as well as a capital expenditure plan of more than $314.7 million.
“Our Board recognizes the critical role our services play in supporting a high quality of life for all Saskatchewan residents,” Arlene Wiks, the SHA board chair, said. “The budget approved today strengthens those services by prioritizing investments that will enhance care for the patients and residents we serve across the province.”
A few key areas outlined in the budget include:
- $42.5 million will be dedicated to the surgical program, providing an additional 6,000 procedures, for a total of 103,000 surgeries this fiscal year.
- $39 million to support seniors’ care and facilitate seniors living in their own homes and the community.
- $19.8-million increase to support 64 permanent acute and complex care beds located at Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon (36 beds) and Pasqua Hospital in Regina.
Moving forward, the SHA also outlines an emphasis on mental health and addictions resources.
The budget includes $12.4 million to address new and ongoing mental health and addictions initiatives. There will also be an additional 150 addiction treatment spaces introduced in the province.
At the St. John’s Hospital in Estevan, 26 post-treatment beds have also been expanded. Rapid access to counseling services is also being expanded from 23 to 31 communities.
Overdose Outreach Teams in Regina and Saskatoon will connect people who have recently experienced an overdose with programs and services.
As part of looking forward, the SHA is also looking back at the success of the new tactics put in place for recruiting health-care workers to the province.
“Since last September, we have begun to stabilize services by filling in more than 120 new and enhanced permanent full-time positions at sites across rural and remote areas,” Andrew Will, the CEO of the SHA, said in the report.
Philippines and grad student additions
One of the province’s recruitment tactics has been getting doctors to come to Saskatchewan from the Philippines, something the SHA says is gaining momentum.
“Conditional job offers have been made to nearly 400 Registered Nurses, 31 Continuing Care Aides and two Medical Lab Assistants,” the SHA said. “Seven Continuing Care Aides arrived from the Philippines the week of April 24, 2023 and will be working in Swift Current, Strasbourg, Yorkton, Kindersley, Regina, St. Brieux and La Loche.”
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Another large recruitment pool used is graduating nursing students.
SHA said since December 2022, it has hired or made conditional offers to 315 nurses.
“In addition, a high-profile advertising/marketing and outreach campaign for the new 550 post-secondary health care training seats is now underway,” the report said.
Recruitment has largely been focused on rural Saskatchewan, where shortages are impacting communities across the province.
Recently, the minister of health approved changes to the Rural Physician Incentive Program that would expand eligibility beyond new graduates to all new-to-rural practice physicians, including internationally trained physicians who have completed the Saskatchewan International Physician Practice Assessment.
The incentive has also been increased to an incentive grant of $200,000 over five years.
Surgical wait times
The province’s surgical wait times have also been outlined by the SHA.
“In 2022-23, clinical teams hit a record high of completing 90,040 surgeries and the highest number of joint replacements in Saskatchewan’s history,” the SHA public agenda read.
The 2023-24 provincial budget provides an additional investment of $42.5 million to the surgical program, which includes $38.5 million for additional surgeries and $4 million to support the expansion of the surgical information system.
“This investment will reduce the wait times for surgical patients and reduce the number of surgical patients waiting throughout the province by investing in our surgical teams, operating rooms, equipment and patient care.”
For more information on the SHA budget and plans for 2023-24, visit the SHA website.
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