The provincial government and Saskatchewan physicians have reached a new contract agreement, with the majority of physicians supporting the changes.
In a recent press release, Health Minister Hindley and Saskatchewan Medical Association President Dr. Annette Epp announced a four-year contract between Saskatchewan physicians and the provincial government. Ninety-three percent of physicians endorsed the changes.
"Thanks to the SMA for collaborating with the provincial government on this significant investment in the new agreement, aimed at retaining and recruiting physicians in Saskatchewan," said Hindley. "The agreement establishes competitive remuneration and benefits, addressing physicians' concerns while progressing towards a full blended capitation model. This move enhances access to primary healthcare providers for patients, with ongoing efforts in this direction."
The agreement includes a notable increase in funding for physician services and initiatives, totalling approximately $245 million. This funding boost will support general rate increases and investments in recruitment and retention programs, aiming to maintain competitiveness amid ongoing labour shortages provincially and nationally.
The agreement entails an average annual rate increase of 2.5 per cent over four years, with a competitive market rate adjustment applied in the first year. Additionally, increased funding is allocated for long-term retention, parental leave, and continuing education support.
Significant investments in primary care are outlined in the agreement to promote team-based care and enhance access to healthcare services, particularly for family doctors.
"Our objective was to reach an agreement that acknowledges the pivotal role physicians play in the healthcare system and provides the necessary support for delivering high-quality, accessible patient care," remarked Dr. Epp. "This new agreement demonstrates recognition and appreciation for Saskatchewan physicians."
Key targeted investments include the introduction of a new primary care payment model for family physicians, an innovation fund to enhance team-based care, funding to address gender pay inequity, and support for physician training on equity, diversity, and reconciliation. Additionally, a Rural and Northern Practice Recognition Premium and permanent virtual care codes are introduced to improve access to healthcare services efficiently.