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Sask. hires over 1,000 nurses to tackle shortage


Saskatchewan is making strides in addressing its registered nurses shortage with the hiring of over 1,000 nursing graduates.

The provincial government said these nurses have been hired from both Sask. and out-of-province since Dec. 2022 as part of Saskatchewan's health human resources action plan.

“We will continue to make significant investments in programs to recruit, train, incentivize and retain more nurses as we build a stronger, more resilient health care system for the people of Saskatchewan,” Health Minister Everett Hindley said in a release Thursday.

The provincial government said nearly 300 “hard-to-recruit” positions have been filled through the rural and remote recruitment incentive, which offers up to $50,000 to new employees in nine high-priority health occupations.

The incentive is available in 54 rural and remote communities across Sask. and over 75 per cent of these incentives have been awarded to nurses.

It comes at a time when recent data shows more doctors and nurses continue to leave the province.

A report on the health workforce in Canada from the Canadian Institute for Health Information shows there were 1,760 rural and remote registered nurses in 2022, compared to 2,234 in 2018 — a decrease of 474 rural and remote registered nurses in Sask. since 2018.

Healthcare workforce shortages have impacted the healthcare system all over the province.

In February, a traumatic situation in a Saskatoon hospital waiting room prompted nurses to enact a last-resort measure, calling to “stop the line” to sound the alarm about overcapacity and patient safety.

Saskatchewan Union of Nurses (SUN) said there was no space behind the ER doors, with four beds in the hallway already.

However, the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) is trying to fill the gap by recruiting Internationally Educated Nurses (IENs). 

According to the provincial data, 178 IENs are in Saskatchewan with 73 having commenced employment in the province.

These new hires are expected to fill critical positions across the province and help alleviate pressure on the healthcare system.

The provincial government said it has expanded the Saskatchewan loan forgiveness for nurses and nurse practitioners program which provides incentives to work in areas of the province with high recruitment needs.

—With files from Keenan Sorokan and Laura Woodward Top Stories

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