Nursing Saskatchewan back to health

The premier of Saskatchewan, Brad Wall, was in to talk with Maclean’s this week. (The entire interview will be posted on our website tomorrow.) 

I asked him about a recent study that ranked Saskatchewan second last out of 10 provinces for the quality of its health care—Newfoundland faired the worst. He said the number one obstacle facing the medical system is . . . a shortage of doctors and nurses!  

The interesting remedy: poach nurses from the Philippines. Because English is a first language there and nurses are educated in a similar style as the ones in North America. The province is hoping to attract hundreds of Filipino nurses to its hospitals. Already 300 have been signed and some of them have even arrived and begun work. That, says Wall, will help alleviate all the other problems facing Saskatchewan’s health care system, like long wait times. Other places such as this New Brunswick community are doing this as well.

With all the red tape over accrediting foreign-trained doctors let’s hope this strategy works. Another option: let’s also invest significantly in our medical schools and start turning out more health care workers here. The Canadian Nurses Association says that “Canada has consistently graduated fewer nursing students than it did 30 years ago, despite a 39 per cent increase in the Canadian population over that same time period.”