ontario news watch

Saskatchewan announces increased compensation to doctors for after-hours care

SASKATOON — The Saskatchewan government says it plans to increase compensation for doctors offering after-hours care to help people get access to physicians.

The province has announced an agreement in principle with the Saskatchewan Medical Association that will see additional funding available to eligible after-hours urgent care and walk-in clinics.

There will also be an additional $8 to $12 in after-hours funding for fee-for-service family physicians.

Like the rest of the country, Saskatchewan’s health-care system is short-staffed and under strain, and people are struggling to find doctors who are accepting new patients.

The province says in a news release the funding should reduce pressure on emergency rooms while supporting clinics to increase patient access on evenings, weekends and holidays.

Health Minister Paul Merriman says ensuring patients have access to family doctors and primary care services is a top priority for the Saskatchewan Party government.

“We have heard and are responding to fee-for-service family physicians’ concerns,” Merriman said in the news release Friday.

“We know there is more work to do, and our government will continue to make record investments to build a stronger health-care system that works for everyone.”

Dr. John Gjevre, president of the Saskatchewan Medical Association, said it’s a positive step in improving access for patients.

“For those clinics that don’t currently have the resources and staffing to offer extended hours, the new funding may help them to keep their doors open in order to better serve patients,” he said in the release.

The association will also continue to work with the province on other changes to help alleviate pressures family doctors are facing and make Saskatchewan an attractive place for future physicians to work, Gjevre added.

The province said the move complements other efforts to stabilize health-care staffing.

The provincial budget, released on March 22, included plans to provide the Saskatchewan Health Authority with an additional $191.4 million, with money going to hire and retain staff.

The Saskatchewan government also introduced legislative changes earlier this week to allow for licensing physician assistants.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 31, 2023.

Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press