Saskatchewan faces shortage of 2,000 health-care staff over next five years: auditor

REGINA — Saskatchewan's auditor says the province is facing a shortage of health-care workers over the next five years that could lead to more hospital closures and emergencyroomshutdowns.

The Saskatchewan Party government's current plan to recruit workers isn't adequate for the 2,000 spots that need to be filled by 2027, Tara Clemett said in her report tabled in the legislature Tuesday.

It focused on hard-to-recruit positions that have chronic vacancies, including registered nurses, psychologists and other front-line workers.

"We have emergency rooms, we have lab services that are not available to the people of Saskatchewan because they don't have staff to work to deliver those services," Clemett said. "There is urgency to this."

Her office said the health authority needs to address the gaps in its workforce thatareseeing people leave their positions faster than its hiring rate.

"They're not figuring out why people aren't staying," Clemett said, adding that the authority needs to conduct exit interviews to figure out what it can do to keep employees in the province, especially in rural areas.

She said improving child care, housing and employment options for spouses could entice people to live outside of urban centres.

"The focus can't just be about getting new people into Saskatchewan. It's about retaining the current workforce that the authority has as well."

In September, the Ministry of Health introduced a plan to hire 1,000 more health-care workers, but the auditor's report projects it will leave more than 1,200 positions vacant over the next five years.

Part of the government's plan includes hiring 150 nurses from the Philippines. However, Clemett said 200 registered nursing positions will remain vacant for next year.

"They're going to have to do more than the status quo," Clemett said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 6, 2022.

Mickey Djuric, The Canadian Press