Released on March 23, 2022
The Saskatchewan government is making a record investment in health care, with a 5.2 per cent increase this year to address surgical wait times, mental health, and many other priorities.
"As we focused our health care resources on the pandemic over the past two years, that limited our ability to deliver health services in other areas, like the number of surgeries performed," Health Minister Paul Merriman said. "This year's budget will address many of those other priorities and get our health system back on track."
The 2022-23 Budget provides an increase of $318.7 million or 5.2 per cent from 2021-22, for a total of $6.44 billion, which represents the largest health investment in Saskatchewan history. This is up $3.0 billion, or 87 per cent since 2007-08.
This budget will provide substantial funding for acute and emergency care in urban, rural and northern communities, mental health and addictions supports, cancer treatments and programs, key provincial infrastructure investments, and will protect people through the transition to living with COVID-19.
To attract and retain specialists and physicians, $3.5 million in new funding will increase the number of specialty and family medicine residency training seats, expand intake for the Saskatchewan International Physician Practice Assessment (SIPPA) program and enhance rural practice incentives for physicians.
"Our government recognizes the workers who deliver high-quality patient care are the foundation of our health care system," Merriman said. "Planning work has begun for a new and dedicated agency responsible for recruiting and retaining health professionals into our workforce from across Saskatchewan, North America and overseas."
The 2022-23 Budget is the largest in history for the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA), with an increase of $277.1 million or 7.0 per cent for a total of $4.242 billion to strengthen health care across the province.
Key commitments in the 2022-23 Budget will see significant expansion in emergency care areas within urban and rural communities. A $21.6 million increase is specifically dedicated to significantly reduce the surgical waitlist by performing thousands of additional procedures in the upcoming fiscal year. In prioritizing surgical plans and setting aggressive, achievable targets, Saskatchewan will deliver on the largest volume of surgical procedures in the history of the province starting this year.
"This year's investment introduces a three-year plan to eliminate the surgical backlog and return to the pre-COVID wait times by end of March 2025," Merriman said.
A further $12.5 million investment will support the first of a multi-year strategy to create 31 additional intensive care unit (ICU) beds across the province. This year, 11 ICU beds will be added to the provincial system for a total of 90 ICU beds as the first step to achieving 110 beds to address over-capacity issues and high occupancy rates, ultimately leading to a higher quality of care.
A nearly $11 million increase will support stabilization of emergency medical services (EMS) with additional paramedics, ambulances and funding in 27 communities across the province, particularly in rural and remote areas, as well as Regina and Saskatoon. This funding will also support additional training and resourcing for community paramedicine in a number of rural and northern communities.
A $4.9 million increase will expand the number of specialized medical imaging procedures, including CT and MRI scans. An added $3.0 million will fund 10 high-acuity beds at Regina General Hospital to support capacity expansion. The beds will be used to reduce demands on the ICU and improve patient flow.
The 2022-23 Budget includes an increase of approximately $2.2 million to fund more specialized care in the Neonatal ICU at Prince Albert Victoria Hospital, and a $2.0 million increase will fund 65 additional transcatheter aortic valve insertion (TAVI) procedures for a total of 120 procedures this year.
Investments in priority health care programs and services will protect and support Saskatchewan people, positively impacting patients of all ages and backgrounds. Budget funding highlights for programs and services include:
- $17 million increase to support seniors including the second year of the three-year commitment to hire additional continuing care aides (CCAs) in long-term care and home care, additional funding to meet increasing demand for home care, additional operating funding for the soon to be opened NorthWest Community Lodge in Meadow Lake, and new funding to expand coverage for high-dose influenza vaccines to all adults aged 65 years and older;
- $1.2 million increase to support community-based organizations; and
- $394,000 for six additional hospice beds at Wascana Rehabilitation Centre.
"Significant investments into recruitment and retention of health care professionals in this budget will help get health care services in rural Saskatchewan back on track," Mental Health and Addictions, Seniors and Rural and Remote Health Minister Everett Hindley said. "Our government is listening to seniors who tell us they want to age in their homes and communities. Investing in more home care staff and improving access to individualized funding will help older adults do just that."
Mental Health and Addictions will receive a significant increase of $9.5 million in 2022-23, including $8 million for targeted initiatives to improve services and supports. Included in this funding will be the first of the 150 new addiction treatment spaces committed to in the 2021 Speech from the Throne. A $1.5 million increase will annualize initiatives first introduced in the 2021-22 Budget.
This budget provides a $15.8 million or 7.7 per cent increase for the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency (SCA) to improve treatments, services and resources for cancer patients to achieve better outcomes. This is the SCA's largest budget ever at $219.8 million, which invests in drug treatments and other therapies, plus the expansion of the Bone Marrow Transplant Program to address higher demand. This budget also invests in:
- $4.8 million increase for drugs and other therapies;
- $2.0 million boost to direct care resources (nurses, clinical associates, and others) to support patient and treatment volumes, and other investments in frontline services;
- $1.75 million in additional investments in screening programs for various cancers including the initial development of a lung cancer screening program for northern Saskatchewan;
- $1.1 million increase for additional resourcing and funding to address growing demand in the Bone Marrow Transplant Program;
- $674,000 increase for the development of a provincial Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cell Therapy Program, an emerging treatment for select types of cancer;
- $575,000 increase for Community Oncology Programs, ensuring patients continue to benefit from treatment options closer to home; and
- $389,000 increase for a medical oncologist to support the establishment of a new medical oncology residency program in partnership with the College of Medicine.
This budget is investing $156.6 million to build needed infrastructure projects, including hospitals and health care facilities. Some of these investments include:
- $15.2 million for Urgent Care Centres in Regina and Saskatoon for design and construction expenses as well as site selection activities in Saskatoon;
- $13.5 million for Prince Albert Victoria Hospital to cover procurement and design stages of the project;
- $6.5 million for design and procurement activities for specialized and standard long-term care beds in Regina;
- $6.0 million for Weyburn General Hospital replacement to continue with procurement and design activities;
- $5.0 million for continued progress on La Ronge and Grenfell long-term care facilities;
- $750,000 for planning, procurement and design of the Regina General Hospital Parkade; and
- $600,000 has been designated to continue early planning and needs assessment for the Yorkton Regional Health Centre replacement and the Watson and Estevan long-term care replacements.
Since November 2007, the province has invested nearly $2.1 billion into capital facilities and equipment to improve the delivery of health care across the province.
This year's budget provides $95 million to sustain the ongoing COVID-19 public response and continue protecting Saskatchewan people in the transition to living with COVID-19. This funding will cover PPE supplies, continuing vaccinations, infection prevention in long-term care homes, and temporary acute care beds in Regina and Saskatoon.
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