Commitments made by the Saskatchewan Government in the 2022-23 provincial budget will see an expansion in emergency care throughout Saskatchewan with a nearly $11 million increase in funding.
An investment of $7.3 million will be made by the provincial government to support the stabilization of emergency medical services (EMS) with additional paramedics, ambulances and funding within 27 communities across the province, especially in rural, remote, and northern areas, states the Government.
“Our government is committed to getting emergency medical services for our residents back on track by addressing critical areas of need with a dedicated focus on rural, remote and northern communities,” Mental Health and Addictions, Seniors and Rural and Remote Health Minister Everett Hindley said. “EMS is a valuable part of our overall health care system, and we are grateful for the service they provide. This significant new investment with strengthen ambulance services in 27 communities across our province.”
The new funding will add 70.7 full-time equivalent positions and will address priority areas around our following communities along with many others:
Also included in the $11 million budget increase for emergency medical services is $653,000 to expand community paramedicine to rural and northern communities, states the Saskatchewan Government. This will be done by adding three additional full-time positions and covering training costs to further enhance and stabilize available supports.
The Government states the community paramedicine positions will be split as follows:
- One between Beauval and Buffalo Narrows;
- One among Wynyard, Wadena and Wakaw, and potentially other locations in the area; and
- One will be targeted to one or more First Nations communities.
Community paramedicine provides patients with increased access to mobile health services closer to home. Paramedics apply their training and skills in community-based environments, states the Government release, and often outside the usual emergency response and transportation model.
An additional $1.5 million will provide the ongoing support for wage increases implemented in 2021 for paramedics working for contracted EMS services to help recruit and retain staff.
“Paramedic Services Chiefs of Saskatchewan (PSCS) is pleased with the announcement in the provincial budget that lays the foundation in addressing the crucial needs of ambulance services and paramedics in the province,” PSCS President Steven Skoworodko said. “We look forward to ongoing dialogue with the Ministry of Health as well as the SHA of paramedics abilities and needs.”
The Government will invest $593,000 to Saskatchewan’s Medical First Responder Program in annualized funding to maintain recruitment levels for new members, add 3.5 full-time positions, and maintain training levels and new equipment.
The provincial government stated in a release, “As part of this year’s total increase, $1.3 million will support annualized costs for the additional resources approved and implemented in Regina and Saskatoon in 2021-22.”
“We are very appreciative of the Government of Saskatchewan providing additional funding for Emergency Medical Services,” Saskatchewan Health Authority Vice-President, Provincial Programs Corey Miller said. “This will help reduce wait times for patients and gaps in service in many rural areas. It also demonstrates a commitment to supporting patients and EMS staff.”
The funding increase provided within this year's budget will add resources and capacity to stabilize services and respond to emergencies promptly, states the Saskatchewan Government. It will help address gaps within rural and remote communities through community paramedicine and enhancements to the Medical First Responder Program.