SARM calls for reinstatement of nurse program

SARM calls for reinstatement of nurse program
Feb 29, 2024

Saskatchewan is underutilizing trained nurse practitioners, the organization says

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Saskatchewan organizations want the provincial government to bring back a program to help address nursing shortages in rural communities.

The provincial government needs to reinstate the 2014 Rural and Remote Nurse Practitioner Recruitment Strategy, which provided wages, benefits and other incentives to encourage nurse practitioners to work in communities with populations of 10,000 or less, the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) says.

“Instead of recruiting, we must grow our own, right here at home,” Ray Orb president of SARM, said in a statement. “The government needs to consider incentives for Nurse Practitioners in the form of contributions towards relocation expenses and potential bonuses for hard-to-fill positions.”

SARM and the Saskatchewan Association of Nurse Practitioners (SANP) are making these calls following a report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

The report indicates 1,760 nurses worked in rural and remote areas in 2022 and that number has declined each year since 2018 when Scott Moe became premier. That year, Saskatchewan had 2,234 nurses in rural and remote communities.

The province is short more than two dozen nurses, who could provide care to those in need, industry experts say.

“30 (nurse pracritioners) could immediately provide care to approximately 36,000 patients. That is equal to the population of communities such as Moose Jaw, Lloydminster, or Prince Albert,” Johanne Rust, president of SANP, said in a statement.

The provincial government says it has made changes to encourage health care professionals to work in rural communities.

Like increasing the rural physician incentive program to $200,000 over five years.

“I think this is significant and should not be understated the recent agreement with the Saskatchewan Medical Association,” Sask. Health Minister Everett Hindley told reporters on Tuesday, CBC reported. “It’s going to help in our rural communities.”

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