News / Regina

Government of Saskatchewan rolls out rural nurse recruiting strategy

Nurse practitioners willing to relocate to some rural communities in Saskatchewan could receive up to $40,000 over five years in incentive grants as part of a new government recruiting strategy.

“Nurse practitioners are valued and welcomed health-care professionals, but vacant nurse practitioner positions in communities can often be difficult to (fill),” Randy Weekes, provincial minister of rural and remote health, said on Thursday in an address to the annual Nurse Practitioner Conference in Regina.

As part of the government’s multi-pronged recruitment program, registered nurses training to become nurse practitioners will receive wages and benefits for up to two years under a five-year service agreement with sponsoring health regions. Weekes said health regions would be allowed to move vacant nursing positions to communities with a “demonstrated need” for nurse practitioners.

The province also wants to create a pool of nurse practitioners to temporarily serve rural communities when those areas' regular health-care staff go on vacation, sick leave or maternity leave.

According to the Saskatchewan Party government, the province has seen a 71 per cent increase since 2007 in its number of licensed nurse practitioners.

The strategy is intended to be phased in over two years and is expected to cost the government approximately $250,000 a year.

“This strategy will help us to continue to remove barriers … and implement solutions that support nurse practitioners and benefit patients,” Lia Boxall, head of the Saskatchewan Association of Nurse Practitioners, said in a prepared statement.

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