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Health minister to Philippines on recruiting mission

Daily Leg Update - Paul Merriman leaves for Philippines Nov. 24 for mission to recruit health care professionals.
Health Minister Paul Merriman speaks to reporters Nov. 24 prior to a trip to the Philippines.

REGINA - Saskatchewan Health Minister Paul Merriman heads to the Philippines Friday for a major recruiting mission of health care professionals from that country to the province.

Merriman is part of a delegation heading to Manila on a five-day mission to promote health care employment opportunities. According to a news release from the province, the mission is also to advance long-term collaboration and exchanges between Saskatchewan and Philippine post-secondary institutions on curriculum, alignment of nurse training programs, and developing pathways to fast-track Filipino health sciences graduates into the Saskatchewan labour market. 

Minister Merriman told reporters he will be “facilitating a lot, meeting with government officials,” and also meeting some of the cohorts to “sell them the Saskatchewan story.”

“There’s probably three days of packed meetings, back to back, either at the convention floor, or at the hotel with officials, said Merriman. He planned to provide an update on how it went once he gets back. 

The greatest need right now from the Philippines, Merriman indicated, is to fill the shortage of registered nurses. Merriman said right now they are looking mostly at RNs, LPNs, continuing care aides, and CLXTs (x-ray technicians). 

They are also looking at efforts to bring spouses and children over. The province is working with Trade and Export Development to see if they can get spouses over and their children integrated into the school system. 

During Question Period on Thursday, Merriman provided an update on the latest numbers on how health care recruiting is going. He noted there were 3000 applications coming from the Philippines, with over 70 nurses from the Philippines ready to come to Saskatchewan and another 40 applications in the process. On the retention side, Merriman said there are 64 more people already hired going from part time to full time positions.

During the debate, Opposition Leader Carla Beck said that in Saskatoon that morning there “were 64 people waiting for a bed, people who are sick enough for a bed but there is no bed available.”

“I’d ask the Leader of the Opposition to please tell me where those 64 people are,” said Merriman, who then reported that as of two minutes before there were 13 open beds at University Hospital, nine open beds at St. Paul’s Hospital, three additional open beds at City Hospital, and 23 open beds at Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital. 

Merriman went on to reiterate the government's “recruitment plan is working. We are bringing individuals not just growing our own in Saskatchewan, Mr. Speaker, we are getting individuals that are coming from across Canada and around the world because they know the potential within Saskatchewan that we have, Mr. Speaker. They know that we are providing fair and adequate compensation, Mr. Speaker. We have four individuals who already accepted the $50,000 recruitment, four more than we had — individuals that are hard to recruit that we have been able to bring in to Northern Saskatchewan.”