Rural Health Care

Res #: 16-10A
Number: 16
Year: 2010
Midterm: No
Expired: Yes
Responses Received: No
Departments: Saskatchewan Ministry of Health

WHEREAS an agreement between the Ministry of Health and the SMA (Saskatchewan Medical Association) requires a physician to be within 30 to 45 minutes of a hospital in order for it to maintain emergency status;


WHEREAS rural hospitals are facing temporary closures due to physician shortages to cover on-call, and patients are being moved to neighbouring facilities; and


WHEREAS alternatives like interactive TeleHealth and other options are being used in other jurisdictions to cover on-call and weekends;


BE IT RESOLVED that SARM lobby the Ministry of Health to negotiate a 21st century alternative for physician on-call coverage and allow rural Saskatchewan to become an even more viable place for physicians to practice.       

Response from Honourable Don McMorris, Minister of Health:

Payment of physician on-call coverage is approved through the Emergency Room Coverage Program which is jointly chaired by the Ministry of Health and the Saskatchewan Medical Association. Representatives on the committee include a number of physicians and representatives from regional health authorities. While the ministry understands the importance of rural health care and access to emergency services, there are expectations that physician on-call coverage will be provided by a stable group of physicians with shared call arrangements.

The current generation of physicians are very focused on work-life balance and expect to be in a supportive collegial environment. This includes the expectation that physicians will have reasonable call schedule. In order to recruit and retain these physicians, we need to ensure that the work environment and community supports are in place.