Given the increasing challenges of finding a family physician in rural Saskatchewan, Humboldt included, and in some communities accessing adequate emergency and on-going health care, the Government states its leaning into the problem. In a February 2 release, the Moe government states that it’s looking at innovative ways to increase patient access to a variety of health care services and to build capacity within our healthcare system. 

The release notes that in the coming days, the Ministry of Health will begin consultations with a variety of stakeholders on enhancing the scope of practice for pharmacists, nurse practitioners and advanced care paramedics. The consultations will inform any legislative, regulatory or bylaw amendments that may be needed to allow these health professionals to expand or optimize the services they can currently provide. 

“Empowering our highly educated health-care professionals to utilize all of their knowledge and skills will ensure patients have greater choice and more timely access to health services,” Health Minister Paul Merriman said. “These consultations will inform system improvements which align with our ambitious four-point plan to recruit, train, incentivize and retain health-care workers in Saskatchewan.”

Some examples of potential changes could include: 

  • allowing paramedics to stitch minor wounds or cuts rather than transporting to the emergency department;

  • allowing Nurse Practitioners admitting and discharging privileges in hospitals; and

  • potential for independent prescribing for pharmacists.

The proposed changes would benefit patients through anticipated shorter wait times for primary care or having additional options for accessing certain health care services.  This will also provide the opportunity to allow all of our health professionals to contribute to safe care across a number of services as we work to support our health human resources across the health system. 

Consultations will include regulatory bodies, associations, unions and health system partners and will take several weeks. These consultations are a key part of supporting the goals of the Health Human Resource Action Plan to increase and stabilize our health workforce.

Meanwhile, the Official Opposition has kicked off a Healthcare Solutions Tour from the Provincial Legislature. Health Critic Vicki Mowat and Rural and Remote Health Critic Matt Love insist it’s not simply about shuffling duties. 

“Saskatchewan’s health system is in a short-staffing crisis and Moe’s Health Minister is missing in action,” said Mowat. “That’s why we’re speaking to the people on the front line who know firsthand what’s wrong in our health system and how best to fix it.” 

The Healthcare Solutions Tour will take the Official Opposition Health Critics across Saskatchewan to consult with municipal leaders, first responders, doctors, nurses, lab technicians and other healthcare professionals over the next few months.