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U of S brings occupational therapy, speech language pathology programs

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The Government of Saskatchewan is investing nearly $8.1 million to establish two new healthcare training programs at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S).

These two new programs aim to address the provincial shortage of occupational therapists and speech-language pathologists.

Health Minister Everett Hindley says these professions were in high demand and the healthcare providers were concerned about the shortage of occupational therapists and speech-language pathologists.

“A key pillar of our Health Human Resources Action Plan is to create training opportunities here at home for Saskatchewan students passionate about a career in health care while encouraging them to choose to live and work in the province after graduation," Hindley said.

The new training programs will be two-year master's degrees that have around 40 seats per year.

The programs are estimated to begin in the fall of 2026. Until then, an interprovincial agreement will help Saskatchewan students access seats in the two programs at the University of Alberta.

Minister of Advanced Education Colleen Young says Saskatchewan has needed these services and the need continues to grow.

"Our post-secondary institutions play key roles in helping address provincial labour market needs and achieving our Growth Plan goals," Young said.

"Establishing these programs in-province will give more students the opportunity to train closer to home and make it easier to retain our grads here in Saskatchewan."

U of S president Peter Stoicheff welcomes the investment, saying the programs will contribute to training much-needed healthcare professionals and improving quality of life across Saskatchewan.

The provincial government says occupational therapists and speech language pathologists provide vital health services to communities throughout the province, including children, seniors, and people with disabilities, injuries, or illnesses.

Under these new programs at the U of S, students will undertake clinical placements as early as their first year of studies, which will place more professionals into the healthcare sector sooner, according to the province.

"The opening of this speech-language pathology program at the University of Saskatchewan heralds a new era in practice for our province," said Jennifer Cameron-Turley, a speech language & audiology Canada provincial advocacy manager.

"It is fitting that this announcement is happening shortly after Speech and Hearing Month, as it helps us continue to bring increased awareness to the profound impact of communication and swallowing disorders can have on people's lives. We look forward to continuing to foster connection, and champion the transformative power of communication for the people of Saskatchewan."

The province says in addition to these programs, the government is investing $2 million to develop a physician assistant program at U of S starting in fall 2025.

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