The Government of Saskatchewan and emergency room (ER) physicians have agreed on a new contract.
© Times-Herald photo
Capacity in the Moose Jaw Union Hospital's emergency room (ER) is steady, but not overly busy. The province and ER physicans agreed to a new three-year agreement on Thursday.
Ratified by ER physicians on Thursday, the three-year deal – retroactive to April 2013 – will help support ongoing recruitment and retention efforts in the province.
According to the province, this agreement underscores a commitment to meeting patients’ need for more physicians.
“We highly value our emergency department physicians, and we are very pleased that they have voted in support of a new contract offer from the province,” Health Minister Dustin Duncan said.
Duncan also noted the agreement puts Saskatchewan in a competitive position with other provinces. It will ensure the appropriate numbers of ER physicians are staffed to avoid future disruptions, like the one that Regina’s Pasqua Hospital ER narrowly averted earlier this week – closing from 7:30 p.m. until 8 p.m. daily.
ER doctors are expected to see a pay increase in the 12.5 to 13.7 per cent range in the first year of the deal. Subsequent increases will occur over the next two years.
As a result, the average Saskatchewan-based ER physician will net between $320,000 to $400,000 annually. Those totals will, of course, be based upon their level of training and experience.
The agreement will apply to about 95 ER physicians throughout the province.
In the Five Hills Health Region (FHHR) there are five full-time ER physicians. There is also one open position, said FHHR Communications Director Kyle Matthies.
He noted that six family physicians rotate through the ER at Moose Jaw Union Hospital to fill voids that may arise.
“Family physicians help protect us against having a dip in service because we have that extra capacity in the community,” said Matthies.
He told the Times-Herald that Thursday’s agreement likely would not affect the FHHR in a big way for the time being. Still, Matthies said the deal would help in another way.
“Obviously it’s going to help us recruit (ER physicians) down the road,” he said. “Anything that makes it easier to recruit is great.”
Referring to what was avoided at the eleventh hour in Regina, Matthies supposed that although something similar could happen in the FHHR, it’s “not likely to happen at all.”
Nathan Liewicki can be reached at 306-691-1256 or follow him on Twitter @liewicks