Rural Saskatchewan is Desperate for Health Care Support. Immediate Action is Needed, Starting with Reinstating the Grow Your Own Nurse Practitioner Program.

The Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM), with their member RMs, is sounding the alarm on the health care crisis facing rural Saskatchewan, there are staff shortages throughout rural areas of the province. SARM recognizes the gaps in our rural health care needs and calls for the government to utilize our qualified Nurse Practitioners (NPs) and, more so, reinstate the Grow Your Own Nurse Practitioner Program.

“Saskatchewan Association of Nurse Practitioners (SANP) believes we need to reinstate the Grow Your Own Nurse Practitioner Program that was announced by the government in 2014. At this time, it is crucial that we employ or fully utilize all NPs, or we will lose this valuable group of professionals to other provinces like Alberta where the job opportunities and wages for NPs are much more attractive. Unfortunately, we still have more than 30 underutilized or unemployed NPs in this province. 30 NPs could immediately provide care to approximately 36,000 patients. That is equal to the population of communities such as Moose Jaw, Lloydminster, or Prince Albert,” says Johanne Rust, Nurse Practitioner and President of SANP.

Rural communities are faced with the ongoing challenges of providing consistent nursing services and emergency room care. NPs are a viable solution, they work where they live which for many are hamlets, northern communities, villages, and small cities. They are independent providers, who do not work under a doctor but alongside them.

“We are starting to see Nurse Practitioners being added to teams in hospitals, cancer care centers, walk-in clinics, and many other areas where there is a gap in services. Nurse Practitioners are a great solution to improving access to care. We are autonomous; meaning that we work under our license and regulations and can work in many clinical areas with minimal supervision. Nurse Practitioners can effectively manage most needs of their patients and refer anything more complicated to specialists or doctors as appropriate,” shares Johanne Rust, Nurse Practitioner and President of SANP.

Currently, Saskatchewan is underutilizing trained NPs. As of April 2023, there were 328 NPs, of those, 10% are unemployed and continue to work as registered nurses.

“We need to see our government make some changes to make it easier for our Nurse Practitioners who live here in Saskatchewan to work where they live. Instead of recruiting, we must grow our own, right here at home. We need more positions for our currently licensed Nurse Practitioners, who are underutilized, and we must reinstate the 2014 Rural and Remote Nurse Practitioner Recruitment Strategy. The government needs to consider incentives for Nurse Practitioners in the form of contributions towards relocation expenses and potential bonuses for hard-to-fill positions,” says Ray Orb, President of SARM.

SARM, as the voice of rural Saskatchewan, will continue this discussion with Members of the Legislative Assembly during the bear pit session on March 14th during our annual convention.

SARM – 2024 Provincial Election

The following are SARM’s key areas of focus for the upcoming provincial election. This release is the first in a series highlighting the rural challenges around each.

  • Health Care
  • Agriculture
  • Policing & Crime
  • Infrastructure

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For interview requests please contact:

Amy Roettger
Communications & Events Coordinator, Sr, SARM or 306.761.3730

Rustie Dean
Media Liaison, SARM

Background: SARM is the independent association representing rural municipalities in Saskatchewan, serving as the primary advocate for its members before senior governments. SARM invites provincial news agencies to join us at convention as representatives from rural Saskatchewan municipalities converge to discuss and debate timely topics, elect officials, and hear the critical issues of Saskatchewan’s rural members. For more information on the convention (including an agenda and registration link) SARM Annual Convention.