2020-21 Budget Strengthens Health Care in Saskatchewan
This year’s record Health budget will strengthen the provincial healthcare system and support the mental and physical wellbeing of Saskatchewan people during this challenging time.
The 2020-21 Ministry of Health budget is $5.8 billion, an increase of $255 million or 4.6 per cent from 2019-20, and represents the highest investment ever.
“Our government will continue to make health care a priority for Saskatchewan people during these unprecedented times,” Health Minister Jim Reiter said. “Our health care system will continue to respond to COVID-19 while at the same time strengthening mental health supports and services, addressing surgical wait times, focusing on women and children’s health, and investing in key capital and equipment.”
Health has committed $118 million specifically related to the COVID-19 response, on hospital equipment, testing equipment, personal protective equipment and operating costs.
“Today’s budget also contains a $200 million health and safety contingency that is available, if necessary, to address any COVID-related costs that can’t be covered within the existing Health budget,” Reiter said.
The Ministry of Health is investing $435 million for mental health and addictions supports and services, the highest budget in history. This funding includes the establishment of a specialized crystal methamphetamine inpatient treatment centre in Estevan and increased access to mental health and addictions services throughout the province.
This budget provides an additional $20 million to reduce surgical wait times. Thousands of Saskatchewan patients waiting for day and inpatient surgeries will have their procedure scheduled sooner. This additional funding will meet growing patient demand and significantly reduce the surgical backlog.
The budget dedicates funding directly to areas that focus on women and children’s health. Nearly $1.8 million in funding will enhance the provincial gynecologic-oncology programs with additional resources including a sixth specialist position to stabilize the provincial program.
Saskatchewan will also commit $1.0 million directly to Ovarian Cancer Canada (OCC) for priorities such as treatment, research and clinical trials. Funds will remain in Saskatchewan to support improvements identified by OCC, the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency, the University of Saskatchewan and provincial gynecologic oncologists.
More than $600,000 will cover costs to modernize cervical cancer screening by using technology called liquid-based cytology. More than $600,000 will enhance sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE) services across the province. More than $400,000 is dedicated to expanding midwifery programs with three additional midwife positions to increase access for expectant mothers with low-risk pregnancies.
Individualized funding for children under the age of six with Autism Spectrum Disorder will increase from $6,000 annually to $8,000 annually - double the amount per child since 2017-18. An estimated 535 Saskatchewan families could benefit from this nearly $750,000 funding increase.
Overall, the budget provides $3.7 billion to the Saskatchewan Health Authority – an increase of $140.6 million or 3.9 per cent over last year.
Other funding highlights include:
- $15.9 million to continue a multi-year funding commitment for additional physicians and clinical staff at the new Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital in Saskatoon;
- $7.9 million to fund operations for 36 new, permanent acute care medical beds at Royal University Hospital;
- $1.4 million for Computer Aided Dispatch Renewal to upgrade existing dispatch technology;
- $1.2 million to continue advancing organ and tissue donation registry development and establish a donor physician model in Regina;
- $1.0 million to support the operation of a highly specialized four-bed Epilepsy telemetry unit at Royal University Hospital;
- $833,000 to support operations for a new 10-bed palliative care hospice in Prince Albert;
- $827,000 to support improvements to the pediatric hematology program; and
- $188,000 to staff a second ambulance in the community of Pelican Narrows (Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation) that will serve the northeast corner of Saskatchewan.
The Saskatchewan Cancer Agency will receive a further $18.4 million or 10.3 per cent increase bringing their annual grant to $196.4 million, also the highest ever. This funding will ensure Saskatchewan patients have access to enhanced cancer care services, including over 20 new oncology drugs.
This year’s Health budget will help build strong communities by investing in key infrastructure for our hospitals and healthcare facilities. Fifteen million will support the planning, design and procurement activities for the Prince Albert Victoria Hospital project to benefit the growing population and meet health care needs in northern Saskatchewan.
The future Victoria Hospital will feature a multi-storey addition with a new acute care tower and adult mental health space. Planning and design work will include development of culturally appropriate services and spaces in partnership with local Indigenous organizations and communities.
Plans are ongoing for the Weyburn General Hospital replacement project. Existing funding of $2.5 million will be directed toward final site selection, land purchase and other planning activities.
A further investment of $15.7 million in capital funding will be provided in addition to last year’s capital commitment for the construction of a new, 72-bed, long-term care facility in Meadow Lake.
As part of the infrastructure stimulus announced on May 6, 2020, an additional $43.7 million will be provided to the health sector to stimulate Saskatchewan’s economic recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding for 2020-21 includes $25 million for facility maintenance and $18.7 million for large capital projects that will be announced at a later date.
More than $28 million will fund capital equipment including diagnostic, medical, surgical, and IT equipment for health facilities. This includes $5.0 million to purchase a replacement linear accelerator to treat cancer patients requiring radiation therapy at the Allan Blair Cancer Centre in Regina.
More than $4.0 million is directed toward diagnostic imaging equipment, including funding toward a $2.0 million computed tomography (CT scanner) to serve Melfort and area patients. This new investment will increase the province’s capacity and provide faster access for patients in northeast Saskatchewan.
The Ministry of Health’s overall budget has increased by nearly $2.4 billion since 2007-08.