SASKATCHEWAN INTRODUCES LEGISLATION TO LICENSE PHYSICIAN ASSISTANTS

Saskatchewan is introducing legislative changes to allow a new profession of Physician Assistants to be licensed to practice in the province. The introduction of this new role will add more skilled professionals to the provincial health system to help address the demand for health human resources and provide a team-based approach to health care.

The Medical Profession Amendment Act, 2023 introduced today in the Saskatchewan legislature will regulate Physician Assistants under the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan and establish the scope of practice for the new profession.

“Licensing and integrating Physician Assistants into our health care teams will help meet the health care needs of Saskatchewan people,” Health Minister Paul Merriman said. “We are making key investments in 2023-24 to recruit, train, incentivize and retain more health care workers, including physicians, nurses and other health professionals.”

Physician Assistants are health professionals who have taken additional advanced training at one of the recognized programs in Canada. They practice medicine under the supervision of a licensed physician, often within a multidisciplinary health team.

Across Canada, Physician Assistants are mostly used in primary care, long-term care, emergency medicine, cancer care, general internal medicine and surgical specialties. Some of their key duties include conducting patient examinations, prescribing medications, and ordering and interpreting tests.

“Thank you to the Saskatchewan government for introducing legislation to regulate Physician Assistants (PAs),” Canadian Association of Physician Assistants (CAPA) Director Saskatchewan Todd Bryden said. “This is a vital step in effectively introducing PAs into the province at a critical time when the health care system has been stretched to the limit. Regulating PAs through the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan means that PAs in the province will be required to follow standards for competency, safety, and ethics like other regulated health professionals in the region. This ensures they are accountable for the care they provide, and the public is protected, further strengthening and lending credibility to the PA profession in Canada. PAs are an integral part of the health care team and will help enhance the capacity of our health care system.”

Anticipated benefits to Saskatchewan patients include reduction in wait times, improvements in patient discharge rates, and a continued decrease in length of hospital stays. Physician Assistants will reduce resident and physician workload allowing our health care professionals the ability to see more patients in a timely manner.

This legislation supports the $1.3 million investment in the 2023-24 Budget to create 12 Physician Assistant positions across the health care system for the first time. This initiative is part of the Government of Saskatchewan’s nearly $100 million investment to support the Health Human Resource Action Plan and continue to recruit, train, incentivize and retain more nurses, doctors, laboratory technicians and other health care workers.

Leading up to the introduction of The Medical Profession Amendment Act, 2023, the Ministry of Health has consulted with key stakeholders, including the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan, the Saskatchewan Medical Association, and the Canadian Association of Physician Assistants.

The legislation will come into force upon proclamation.