The Saskatchewan government says it’s aware something needs to be done to address the shortage of social workers in northern parts of the province.
Since the start of the year the province has staffed a additional 15 critical front-line Child and Family Programs positions, and are now in the process of recruiting 12 more.
Tina Beaudry-Mellor Social Services Minister says the vacancies came unexpectedly in a place where hiring staff has already proven difficult.
“There were a whole bunch of maternity leaves in that area,” said Beaudry-Mellor. “And in addition to that, like many employers, we struggle to fill positions in the north.”
Nicole Rancourt NDP MLA for Prince Albert Northcote says, the province would be able to fill northern vacancies much faster, if social workers in that area were not included in wage cuts and unpaid days off.
“I think the minister of Social Services should be taking a stance,” said Rancourt. “She should say we can’t afford to have social workers be forced to have to take a day off without pay up in northern areas and Prince Albert because of the crisis issues we’re facing right now.”
Beaudry-Mellor says during the recruiting process any front line case loads have been taken on by staff in other areas.
The northern region includes the communities of Prince Albert, Lloydminster, North Battleford, Buffalo Narrows, La Loche, Creighton, Meadow Lake, Melfort, and Nipawin along with 13 First Nations.