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Saskatchewan unveils ‘historic’ HR action plan for health-care sector

September 8, 2022
By Talent Canada


Photo: Birkus-Viktor/Istock/Getty Images Plus

Saskatchewan has unveiled its plan to recruit, train, incentivize and retain health-care workers in the province in what it calls a historic move.

This Health Human Resources Action Plan directly connects to province’s growth plan, it said.

“Bolstering our health-care workforce through competitive recruitment efforts is a top priority for our government, and we are expanding on our four-point plan to recruit, train, incentivize and retain healthcare providers to stabilize and steadily grow the provincial workforce,” Minister of Health Paul Merriman said. “We will be actively marketing Saskatchewan both within and beyond our provincial borders to ensure people here at home, across Canada and globally know Saskatchewan is a great place to find healthcare opportunities, build your career and enjoy a high quality of life.”

Investment in the plan to recruit, train, incentivize, and retain healthcare workers, including physicians and registered nurses, will amount to over $60 million over the next several years. Government, the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) and affiliates, are activating a number of initiatives guided by these four pillars to develop pathways to success, including:

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Recruit

Hundreds of new healthcare workers will be recruited over two years from abroad and newcomers interested in working within the healthcare sector, it said.

This includes a recruitment mission to the Philippines this fall to promote available opportunities to work in Saskatchewan. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is being negotiated with the Government of the Philippines on the Recruitment of Filipino Healthcare Professionals.

Four new health system navigators will come onboard this fall to help internationally educated healthcare workers with moving into healthcare positions, settlement and orientation.

A provincial call is being put out to unlicensed internationally educated healthcare professionals (IEHPs) and others with healthcare experience currently living in the province, and Canada, who may be eligible for training or employment to join Saskatchewan’s healthcare workforce.

Train

Saskatchewan said it is the first province in Canada to introduce an accelerated training, assessment and licensure pathway for internationally educated nurses that includes supports for overseas recruits to settle and start work in the province. The first cohort from the Philippines will begin online training in Fall 2022 prior to arriving in Saskatchewan.

Further program possibilities will be identified with post-secondary partners to ensure sector needs are met, such as additional training seats and the potential for new professions such as Physician Assistants.

A total of 150 nursing seats have been added in Saskatchewan’s registered nursing, registered psychiatric nursing, and nurse practitioner education programs.

Incentivize

A new incentive program is being launched which will provide up to $50,000 over three years for a return-of-service agreement for hard-to-recruit positions mainly in rural and remote areas.

Government also offers a suite of financial incentives including loan forgiveness programs, bursaries and supports to those interested in a health career within Saskatchewan, for example:

  • The Student Loan Forgiveness Program encourages nurses and nurse practitioners to practice in rural or remote communities by forgiving up to $20,000 of their Saskatchewan Student Loans.
  • The Graduate Retention Program provides income tax credits of up to $20,000 to graduates of eligible post-secondary programs who live and work in Saskatchewan. Nurses and nurse practitioners who are eligible for the Student Loan Forgiveness Program may also qualify for the Graduate Retention Program.
  • Final Clinical Placement Bursary is offered to students in an eligible health discipline that requires the completion of a final clinical placement as part of training.

Retain

Across the province, 100 new permanent full-time positions will be added and 150 part-time positions will be converted to full-time permanent positions for high-demand professions in rural and remote areas.

New mentorship programming will be advanced and peer-to-peer support programing will be enhanced.

The SHA will work with partners to develop a First Nations and Métis recruitment and retention strategy.

“Our government is delivering solutions that will simplify processes, remove obstacles, and cut red tape so qualified people can work in Saskatchewan as quickly as possible,” Merriman said. “By identifying and assisting with licensing for internationally educated residents living in Saskatchewan, along with welcoming and supporting hundreds of health care recruits over the next two years, and improving awareness of opportunities in the province, we will achieve success.”

A new, independent Saskatchewan Healthcare Recruitment Agency (SHRA) has been formally established with an initial Board consisting of the Deputy Minister of Health and the SHA’s Interim CEO. The SHRA will serve to coordinate and collaborate around health human resource planning with the SHA, affiliates and Saskatchewan communities. The scope of the SHRA includes the coordination of provincial level recruitment and retention efforts of physicians, nurses and other health professionals. A search for the Agency’s Chief Executive Officer is underway.

An information campaign is planned for this fall to promote career opportunities, as well as incentive, retention and financial support programs for healthcare workers.


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