April 10, 2018

Record $5.36 Billion Invested in Improving Health Care

Targeted New Investments Include Universal HIV Drug Coverage, Individualized Autism Funding and Universal Newborn Hearing Screening Program

The 2018-19 Budget invests a record $5.36 billion for the Ministry of Health, an increase of 2.9 per cent from 2017-18.

Targeted funding will provide Saskatchewan people with improved access to mental health, palliative care and community-based primary health care services, and provide universal coverage of HIV medications.  Government is also introducing new programs to provide individualized funding for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and ensuring babies born in Saskatchewan hospitals are screened for hearing loss.

“As Saskatchewan grows and evolves, so do the health needs of the people of our province,” Health Minister Jim Reiter said.  “This year’s health budget includes a focus on ensuring health services are delivered in new, innovative ways, to better meet the needs of residents.”

Included in the health budget is $3.5 billion for Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) operating funding, a $71.9 million increase over the total funding to all previous Regional Health Authorities in 2017-18.  Increases include $25 million for general operating costs and service pressures, and additional funding to prepare for the 2018 opening of Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford and the 2019 opening of the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital (JPCH).

Federal funding of $19.02 million to support the provincial Connected Care strategy.  This investment builds on existing provincial spending on team-based community health services and primary health care for patients who may be best served in a home or community setting.

Additional federal and provincial funding of $11.4 million (total investment of $284 million) to improve community-based mental health services, including services and supports for children, youth and families.

Additional funding has also been identified to improve access to care in the following key initiatives:

  • A $2.8 million investment will fulfill government’s commitment to provide individualized funding for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Initial funding of $4,000 per child under the age of six will be provided in 2018-19.
  • A $600,000 investment will provide universal drug coverage for HIV medications.
  • $50,000 for AIDS Saskatoon and an additional $50,000 for Saskatoon’s Westside Clinic to provide additional HIV supports.
  • A $523,000 investment will create the Universal Newborn Hearing Screening program to provide babies born in Saskatchewan hospitals with a screening test to support early detection of hearing loss.
  • Government will fulfill the final year of its commitment to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind for vision loss rehabilitation services and equipment, with funding of $500,000, a $250,000 increase.

The 2018-19 Budget also provides $99.2 million in capital funding, an increase of $15.1 million, or 17.9 per cent, from 2017-18.  This includes $20 million to the $235.5 million provincial construction commitment for the JPCH, and an additional $6.6 million for JPCH information technology needs, and $7.2 million for electrical renewal projects at provincial hospitals.

Following the December 2017 launch of the Saskatchewan Health Authority, there has been an 86 per cent reduction in senior administrative staff positions and a reduction of senior administrative staff salaries by 80 per cent or $9.0 million annually.

Further efficiencies are anticipated when eHealth Saskatchewan assumes responsibility for information technology (IT) services for the SHA, anticipated later this year.  This will include the transfer of SHA IT staff to eHealth.  This will support more effective management of IT services on a provincial scale, providing the opportunity to save or avoid future costs of approximately $9.0 million once the transfer is complete.