Saskatchewan Significantly Expanding Opportunities For Health Care Training
Saskatchewan is dramatically increasing educational opportunities for Saskatchewan students and young adults interested in health careers. An immediate initial investment of more than $5.5 million will help create over 550 new post-secondary training seats across 18 health care training programs.
Expanding health training programs is one of four pillars in the province’s Health Human Resources Action Plan. This commitment will increase training capacity at the province’s post-secondary institutions and reserve additional training seats for Saskatchewan students in highly specialized programs in other provinces.
“This initiative will open up exciting new health career options for many more Saskatchewan students by giving them greater access to training for their career of choice,” Advanced Education Minister Gordon Wyant said. “The scale of this unprecedented expansion of Saskatchewan’s health training capacity demonstrates our government’s commitment to strengthening our health care workforce. We are grateful for the support of our partners across the post-secondary education and health sectors.”
Training programs that will expand beginning in fall 2023 include Medical Laboratory Assistant, Continuing Care Assistant, Primary Care Paramedic, Licensed Practical Nurse, Pharmacy Technician, Clinical Psychologist, Physical Therapist and Mental Health and Addictions Counsellor.
Post-secondary institutions across the province – technical schools, regional colleges, Indigenous institutions and universities – will support the expansion so that students can study and work closer to home. This latest expansion builds on a previous investment in 2022-23 to add 150 nursing seats in Saskatchewan’s registered nursing, registered psychiatric nursing, and nurse practitioner programs.
The province will also purchase more seats for Saskatchewan students at institutions outside the province for specialized programs not available in Saskatchewan. More seats will be available in programs including Respiratory Therapy, Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technology, Diagnostic Medical Sonography, Occupational Therapy, Electro-Neurophysiology, and Cardiovascular Perfusion. For the first time, seats will also be reserved for Saskatchewan students in Speech Language Pathology and Environmental Public Health.
“We are taking multiple actions under our ambitious HHR Action Plan to stabilize and steadily grow our health-care workforce,” Health Minister Paul Merriman said. “This includes training more health-care professionals here at home, and recruiting from within the province, across Canada and abroad. This training seat expansion significantly increases educational opportunities for Saskatchewan students across multiple health disciplines and will generate increased interest in training and working in health care here in our great province.”
A new public awareness campaign will help make Saskatchewan students and young adults aware of the expanded training programs, financial support and job opportunities available to them. Among the young adults featured in the campaign is Kelsey Klewchuk, a recently graduated Primary Care Paramedic from Regina.
“No two days are the same,” Klewchuk said. “I’m always learning something new, taking something meaningful away from my day and I really appreciate that about my job. I would say to someone considering going into my field of work – or health care in general – that this job allows you to critically think, work as a team, and overall, it can be a very rewarding job when you do get the chance to help someone and make a difference on one of the most serious days or events in their life.”
Saskatchewan students can access a variety of financial aid options to help support their educational journeys, including loans, grants, bursaries and scholarships. The Graduate Retention Program also provides up to $20,000 in tax credits for those who stay in the province after graduation.
The Health Human Resources Action Plan announced in September is based on four pillars: recruit, train, incentivize and retain. These priorities align with Saskatchewan’s Growth Plan and will invest over $60 million and add more than 1,000 health professionals to the health system over the next few years. The $5.5 million investment during this fiscal year will help post-secondary institutions prepare to hire faculty, purchase equipment and recruit qualified students so that program expansion can begin this fall. Ongoing investments will be required in future years and will be determined as part of the annual budget process.