Source: Government of Canada regional news
Released on February 5, 2024
Today, Health Minister Everett Hindley and Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA) President Dr. Annette Epp were pleased to announce that Saskatchewan physicians have ratified a new four-year contract with the Government of Saskatchewan. Ninety-three per cent of physicians who cast ballots voted in favour of the agreement.
“Thank you to the SMA for collaborating with the provincial government on the unprecedented investment in this new agreement which will help to retain and recruit physicians in Saskatchewan,” Hindley said. “The agreement provides a strong foundation for competitive remuneration and benefits, and addresses concerns raised by physicians while we continue to work toward a full blended capitation model. This is a step forward toward greater access for patients to primary health care providers, and that ongoing work will continue.”
The new agreement includes a record setting increase in on-going funding for physician services and initiatives of approximately $245 million, which includes general rate increases and investments in recruitment and retention programs that allow Saskatchewan to remain competitive in the midst of a challenging national and international labor landscape. The agreement also includes significant investments in primary care that will increase team-based care and provide more stable funding to family physicians, resulting in improved access to health care services.
“Our goal was to reach an agreement that recognizes the critical role physicians play in the health care system and provide the support they need to deliver high-quality, accessible patient care,” Dr. Epp said. “I firmly believe this new agreement acknowledges and values Saskatchewan physicians.”
Highlights of the new contract include:
Compensation, Benefits, Recruitment and Retention
- An overall average general rate increase of 2.5% per year over four years (April 1, 2022 to March 31, 2026).
- A competitive market rate adjustment applied to the first year of the agreement.
- Increased funding to support long term retention, parental leave and continuing medical education.
New Targeted Investments
- Introduction of a new primary care payment model for family physicians that unifies existing volume-based pay with a new capitation payment (based on patient contacts and panel size), allowing more time to deal with complex patient issues and an increased focus on preventive care. This investment of more than $50 million in annual funding is expected to stabilize and begin a transformation of primary care in Saskatchewan.
- An innovation fund of up to $10 million annually over the duration of the agreement, that will increase the amount of team-based care in primary health care settings, resulting in health care providers working to the top of their scope and improving access to primary care in the province.
- Funding to address gender pay inequity in physician fee codes, as well as new funding to support physician training and awareness related to equity, diversity, racism, and truth and reconciliation.
- A new Rural and Northern Practice Recognition Premium that recognizes the unique nature and critical importance of rural medicine.
- Introduction of permanent virtual care codes to increase efficient access to health services for patients and reduce unnecessary travel for appropriate services.
Saskatchewan Medical Association