Report from the Legislature – September 29, 2022

Saskatchewan is proud of our diverse culture, supportive communities and rich history. As we honour Truth and Reconciliation, our government was pleased to join Lieutenant Governor Russ Mirasty and the Treaty Commissioner of Saskatchewan to officially unveil new road signs to mark the Treaty 4 and 6 boundary near Highway 11.

The signs are a first for Canada and officially marking the treaty boundary near Bladworth compliments treaty education in our province. They will serve as a reminder of the importance of treaties, spark conversations and move us forward on the shared journey to reconciliation in Saskatchewan.

That continuing effort is reflected in our recent announcement of the Dakota language being added to the growing list of secondary-level Indigenous language courses. Dakota, Nēhiyawēwin, Dene, Nakawe, Michif, and Nakoda are now available to younger generations to support the revitalization of First Nations and Métis culture.

Our government has also provided up to $255,000 to the First Nations University of Canada to deliver the Dene Teacher Education Program. Post-secondary students who graduate with a four-year Bachelor of Indigenous Education, will be prepared to instruct students in the Dene language as part of the K-12 curriculum. The program will improve the recruitment and retention of teachers in the north and increase student participation.

In support of the announcement to add over 1000 professionals to the healthcare system, the Saskatchewan Health Authority is working with partners to develop a First Nations and Métis recruitment and retention strategy. This endeavour is part of a new four-point plan to recruit, train, incentivize and retain healthcare workers across Saskatchewan.

A stable and growing healthcare workforce supports the growth happening in our province right now. We have more businesses, more investment and more people living in Saskatchewan than ever before. Creating an environment that will lead to further sustainable growth is a top priority for our government. The Health Human Resource Action Plan will build on numerous initiatives and incentives already in place and involves a variety of partners.

The plan starts with a focus on recruiting hundreds of healthcare workers from abroad over the next two years. Senior officials will lead the recruitment, and four new health system navigators will help internationally educated healthcare workers settle into our province.

Saskatchewan will become the first province in the country to introduce an accelerated training, assessment and licensing process for internationally educated nurses. The first group of candidates will begin online training this fall as part of the second point of this four-point plan. Additionally, we added 150 nursing seats to the registered nursing, registered psychiatric nursing and nurse practitioner education programs to increase training opportunities here at home.

The third part of the plan is a new incentive that will provide up to $50,000 over three years for hard-to-recruit positions in rural and remote areas. We will continue to offer loan forgiveness programs, bursaries and support to anyone interested in a healthcare career here in Saskatchewan. For example, the Student Loan Forgiveness Program encourages nurses and nurse practitioners to practice in rural communities by forgiving up to $20,000 of their Saskatchewan Student Loans.

Finally, we will work to retain more professionals by creating 100 new permanent full-time positions and converting 150 part-time positions into full-time for high-demand professions in rural and remote areas.

Our province continues to grow, and we are focused on expanding the services and programs that residents need. We will deliver solutions that simplify processes, remove obstacles and cut red tape so qualified people can work in Saskatchewan as quickly as possible.

The time to explore a career in healthcare is now, and the place to do it is Saskatchewan.