Report from the Legislature – February 17

MLAWeekly

Saskatchewan Physician Numbers Continue to Rise

From the very beginning our government made it a priority to train, recruit and retain more doctors for Saskatchewan.  Today there are nearly 650 more physicians practising in the province than there were in 2007.  This growth can be attributed to a number of initiatives, including:

  • the implementation of the Saskatchewan International Physician Practice Assessment (SIPPA), which has resulted in almost 190 more doctors providing services in the province;
  • the development of a rural physician locum pool to provide coverage and assistance for rural family physicians to ensure a work-life balance;
  • forgiving up to $120,000 in Saskatchewan student loans for new doctors that practice in communities of less than 10,000 people; and
  • doubling the number of post-graduate physician training seats at the College of Medicine, and increasing undergraduate medical training seats from 60 to 100.

Saskatchewan is affirming its commitment to improving access to physician services by releasing a planning document that forecasts the need for physicians and specialists over the long-term.  This allows us to take a longer-term strategic approach to strengthening and sustaining our physician workforce.

New Pilot Program Allows Residents to View Personal Health Care Information Online

A new program – the Citizen Health Information Portal (CHIP) Pilot – is allowing a group of residents from across the province to view their personal health information online through a secure website.  CHIP is the first comprehensive electronic system of its kind in Canada that puts patients first.

Participants can view their personal lab results, immunization history, pharmacy and hospital visit history from anywhere in the world.  They can add medical information to their personal profiles, view their children’s health care information and invite their doctor or care provider to view their profile.

Our government is excited to launch a new program that empowers people to take a more active role in their own health care.  Participants will be asked to provide feedback which will help to guide future decisions about additions or changes to online health information and other health programs.

Access to MRI Services Improving in Saskatchewan

Southern Saskatchewan will be well-served by a new MRI suite at the Dr. F.H. Wigmore Regional Hospital in Moose Jaw.  About 370 patients who had been waiting to receive a scan in Regina or Saskatoon had their procedures rescheduled to the new hospital in Moose Jaw.

Extending service to a new location is an important step toward ensuring patients can be diagnosed and treated sooner, and closer to home.  The Ministry of Health will cover annual operating costs of the MRI in Moose Jaw, which will provide up to 3,000 MRI scans during its first full year of operation.

In Saskatchewan, demand for MRIs has increased more than any other specialized imaging service.  Health region MRI capacity has more than doubled since 2007-08 and the public system is on track to provide approximately 33,500 MRIs in 2015-16, an increase of about 5% from the previous year.

Agriculture Trade Mission to India

Saskatchewan is Canada’s top exporter to India.  This past year, Saskatchewan exports to India totalled more than $1.8 billion with lentils, peas and potash leading the way.  2015 also marked a record-breaking year as agriculture exports to India exceeded $1 billion for the first time.

It is important for us to build on this growth and find new opportunities with one of the world’s fastest-growing economies.  This week’s trade mission to India will help Saskatchewan solidify its trade relationship for established products and allow for conversations about future imports.

Face-to-face meetings help us to better understand India’s needs, identify new areas for collaboration and trade, and discuss any barriers.

SGI Customers Can Now Print Their Own Vehicle Registration

SGI is enhancing convenience for customers with changes to vehicle registration certificates.  Certificates can now be printed on plain white paper rather than special green card stock paper, saving SGI an estimated $120,000 annually in paper costs and up to $400,000 annually in postage costs.

Customers who register a vehicle using SGI’s online service MySGI will no longer have to wait for their certificate in the mail – they can print it at home.  Any customer with a MySGI account can also access their registration certificate online, and print it off any time, even if they didn’t renew online.

As a deterrent against potential criminal activity, a customer’s address will no longer be printed on vehicle registration certificates.  You can visit SGI’s website at http://www.sgi.sk.ca for more information on vehicle registration requirements or the MySGI online service.

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