SMA members say there aren’t enough family doctors

Members of the Saskatchewan Medical Association asked questions of the Health Minister and the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Rural and Remote Health during their Spring Representative Assembly, and a couple of the topics were not having enough family doctors, dealing with doctors buying out their contracts to move elsewhere and the two Saskatchewan Harm Reduction sites in Saskatoon and Regina.

Health Minister Paul Merriman was asked what the government would be doing to deal with the issue of family doctors buying out their contracts so they can move elsewhere, when more family doctors are needed in this province. He responded that there has to be a balance between how long the contract is and the option to buy out, while remaining competitive with other jurisdictions, but Merriman understands that this is an issue. The Health Minister notes that the government doesn’t want to create a transient workforce. He knows more funding is needed to retain family doctors, and that’s why they increased seats at the USask College of Medicine, but local graduates are not the only answer. The province wants doctors to move to Saskatchewan and to make a home here, so they are not enticed to move elsewhere.

When asked about the Harm Reduction sites in Regina and Saskatoon, which are safe consumption sites with wrap-around services to move clients towards care, Minister Everett Hindley answered that they won’t be getting any provincial funding. The focus to date has been on prevention and treatment initiatives across the province and adding more beds for addictions services. He adds that there are discussions with federal counterparts as well about harm reduction.

Also at the Representative Assembly today,  Dr. Eben Strydom’s term as president of the SMA ended and the Assembly has elected Dr. John Gjevre in his place.

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