More family physicians are being called to the rural southwest, thanks to the provincial government’s recent enhancement to the Rural Physician Incentive Program, (RPIP). 

Announced in a release late last week, the incentive will be jumping to $200,000 over five years starting on April 1, more than four times the amount that was previously offered.   

Everett Hindley, Minister of Rural and Remote Health said the program, launched in 2013, is currently at $47,000 over four years.  

“It's been a very successful program for us in the past,” he said. “But with anything, we took a look at it with our officials and based on some of the conversations I was having with people, as part of some of the tools that I did this past summer across the province meeting with frontline healthcare providers that included doctors as well, we decided to make some enhancements to the program to make it more attractive.” 

This builds upon previous announcements regarding the province’s Health Human Resources Action Plan, to recruit, train, incentivize and retain healthcare positions. 

Hindley added that they believe the RPIP is one of the most attractive incentive programs in the country for doctors. 

“As we were looking at making changes to the Rural Physician Incentive Program, we did take a look at what other jurisdictions are offering,” he said. “It's very competitive to get healthcare workers and doctors into your province, in particular into rural areas. 

“The reason we've provided such a generous incentive program over a period of five years with the largest amount of the incentive coming years four and five, is we think it will help encourage doctors to set up practice in rural Saskatchewan, but ultimately also hope that they stay in those communities beyond that. That hopefully, by the end of that fifth year, that they're well established in that community. Perhaps they've got a family that's put some roots down, they've bought a house, they've got kids in school, they're involved in local organizations and service clubs and activities. That they will be choosing to stay well beyond the five years and be in that community on a long-term basis.”