The federal and provincial governments signed a bilateral agreement Monday, committing to invest more in Saskatchewan’s home care, and mental health and addictions services.
In the next few years, the province’s goal is to shift the delivery of care from hospitals to community health centres, along with improving access to palliative and end-of-life care.
Provincial health minister Jim Reiter said with the changes, he hopes it will cut down emergency wait times.
“If we get to the core of the problem early, in many instances, it’s not only going to provide better care to citizens, but it’s going to prevent stress on the larger facilities,” he said. “They can get the appropriate care, and — in some instances — they don’t need to be in the emergency room, they can be getting the care in the community.”
Improving mental health services, especially in northern Saskatchewan and in Indigenous communities, is also a focus of the funding.
Reiter said more youth mental health training opportunities will be in place for healthcare professionals and more pilot projects are planned in schools.
He added new jobs will be created in the near future to help with mental health diagnosis and treatment, and, recently, more than 20 people have been employed in Saskatchewan’s community care sector alone.
In addition to in-person care, the province plans to expand its online cognitive behavioral therapy services as well.
Saskatchewan is set to invest $158 million over the next five years as part of a ten-year federal financial commitment of nearly $350 million.
The federal government plans to track the progress of each province and territory’s home care and mental health funding through a set of common indicators which are currently being developed.