March 20, 2019

Strong Support For Health Care In 2019-20 Budget

The 2019-20 Ministry of Health budget invests a record $5.55 billion in health care programs and services – an increase of $196 million or 3.7 per cent over last year, and up 60 per cent since 2007-08.

This includes record funding of almost $402 million for mental health and addictions services – up nearly $30 million over last year’s budget.

“The 2019-20 health budget strikes the right balance between funding new mental health and addictions programs and funding other ongoing health services and priorities,” Health Minister Jim Reiter said.  “This budget also takes the important step of creating an organ donor registry which we hope will encourage Saskatchewan people to register their intent to donate.”

New funding of $558,000 will support the creation of a provincial organ donor registry.  Work will commence immediately, with the goal of launching a registry before the end of the fiscal year.

The 2019-20 health capital budget includes $12 million to begin construction of a new long-term care facility in Meadow Lake, with capacity increased from 55 to 72 beds.  Construction is expected to begin in the spring of 2020.

Capital funding of $5.0 million will be divided between the Weyburn Hospital replacement project and the Prince Albert Victoria Hospital redevelopment project to prepare both proposals to enter the final stages of approval.

The 2019-20 Budget increases operating funding to the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) to $3.6 billion, a $113.3 million increase or 3.2 per cent from 2018-19.  This includes a $23 million increase for doctors, nurses and staff to provide the best possible care for children at the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital, which is now 96 per cent complete and will open in Saskatoon this fall.

Individualized funding for children under the age of six with Autism Spectrum Disorder will increase from $4,000 annually to $6,000 annually, providing parents with greater flexibility to choose from a range of therapeutic interventions and supports for their child.  An estimated 700 children are eligible to benefit from this $700,000 funding increase.

The 2019-20 Budget provides $1.4 million in new operational funding for Saskatoon’s first free-standing hospice facility, St. Paul’s Hospital’s Hospice at Glengarda, scheduled to open in the spring of 2020.  This funding will support 15 end-of-life care beds in a home-like environment, integrated with the palliative care services provided by the SHA.

New funding of $700,000 will support the creation of a satellite dialysis service in Meadow Lake, providing an alternative location for patients who currently travel to Saskatoon or other southern locations for treatment.  This expansion will enable the SHA to provide treatment to 16-24 more medically stable dialysis patients.

More than $1.0 million in funding is being provided to the Alzheimer Society of Saskatchewan to expand their First Link Services to northern and eastern Saskatchewan, more than doubling its funding.  The First Link program currently helps more than 2,600 people living with dementia in more than 300 communities across Saskatchewan.

New funding of $100,000 has been dedicated to train up to 24 physiotherapists, occupational therapists or nurses in Complete Decongestive Therapy for patients who suffer from lymphedema, which affects an estimated 30,000 people in Saskatchewan.

The Saskatchewan Cancer Agency (SCA) will receive nearly $8.0 million in additional funding, increasing the SCA’s budget to $178 million – a 127 per cent increase since 2007.  New funding will support the addition of 18 oncology drugs to the formulary and the recruitment of additional oncologists.

The 2019-20 Budget will increase funding for physician services by $15 million.  This funding increase will be used to pay for increased physician visits, fund approximately fifteen new specialist physician contracts and eight new primary care physician contracts.