The Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM), alongside their member RM's, shared their concerns over the ongoing lack of rural healthcare support, job retention, recruitment and operating facilities.
Ray Orb, President of SARM, shared, “Our healthcare system is under an immense strain following the pandemic, and rural Saskatchewan is feeling concerned about every facet of the flow of healthcare services in rural areas. Service disruptions and aging facilities, alongside the ongoing struggle to recruit and retain critical healthcare staff, are ultimately leading to closures; many without reopening dates are becoming all too common in our communities."
SARM encourages young families, and industries, to put down rural roots across the province, but can’t showcase health services as a reliable resource outside of urban centers. SARM wants to do everything possible to support provincial initiatives to recruit and retain qualified health care professionals in rural Saskatchewan.
“We call for more opportunities for youth to aspire to stay in our RMs and have a fulfilling career in health care, we believe our next generation of service workers are in our own backyard. We should start the recruitment process in high school with educational opportunities geared towards Saskatchewan youth, which ends with employment based in their home communities,” stated Orb.
Orb went on to say, "We want our rural families to feel less burdened to travel extensive distances for medical care, not only for specialists but for basic family medicine. For many living in rural communities, they can’t make it work because of the additional burden of costs incurred like missed work, fuel, food, and accommodations while they are away.”
SARM stated that they must see post-secondary investment, "Our provincial government is on the right track with their recent announcement of expanding opportunities for health care training, however, physicians are notably absent from the high-priority classification lists for rural Saskatchewan. That’s a miss for our members in large."
SARM is requesting to be a part of the rural healthcare conversation.
"It will take a collaborative partnership with the government, along with health care partners, to create a wholesome, informed, and triaged approach to ensure the people living in rural Saskatchewan receive the health service and care they deserve. If we can begin to integrate modalities such as paramedicine, nurse practitioners, and virtual appointments, we can begin to see our rural health care facilities being utilized to their full potential."