Three recently recruited workers from the Philippines welcomed to the Southwest

Swift Current MLA Everett Hindley presented Saskatchewan Flag pins to recruited healthcare workers Mica Reyes, Myra Callope and Janice Abastillas during a media event on February 10.

A trio of Continuing Care Assistants recruited from the Philippines during the fall have arrived in the Southwest to begin working in Saskatchewan’s healthcare system.

Swift Current MLA Everett Hindley hosted a media event at the Southwest Newcomer Welcome Centre on February 10 to introduce the first regional additions which are part of a strategy to address healthcare staffing shortages in Saskatchewan.

Mica Reyes and Myra Callope have signed on to work as Continuing Care Assistants at the Eastend Wolf Willow Health Centre, with Janice Abastillas landing a CCA job at The Meadows. All three were attracted to Saskatchewan during a late November healthcare recruitment trip to the Philippines.

Mica Reyes experienced her first flight experience while relocating to the province. With a background as a Registered Nurse in Laguna, she has previous experience working in operating rooms, delivery and recovery rooms, and other nursing duties.

“Actually I always dreamed to be here because people are so nice, people always greet us, they are always polite to us Filipinos,” she said during an interview at last Friday’s media event.

Reyes went to Eastend shortly after arriving in the province to view her new accommodations and to visit the Wolf Willow Health Centre.

“The residents are so nice. They loved to see us, and we loved to see them also. So we’re so excited to be with them,” she said while preparing to start her duties on February 21.

“It feels like a dream to be here in Saskatchewan, and in Eastend. We’re so excited to start our work here. And it feels like home already…but more cold than the Philippines.”

Hindley, who serves as the Minister for Mental Health and Addictions, Seniors, and Rural and Remote Health, said the recruiting drive was part of a four point health human resources action plan launched by the provincial government in September to help address staffing shortages in healthcare.

Saskatchewan has now welcomed four of the targeted 150 healthcare workers from the province’s recruiting trip to the Philippines, with job offers extended to 160 individuals with RN, CCA and other designations.

“What we’re trying to do with this Health Human Resources Action Plan, and that includes the incentive program as well, we’re targeting communities and facilities where we have service disruptions,” Hindley said last Friday.

“When we’re short those staff, that means we’re not delivering services to full capacity.”
Saskatchewan’s $60 million Action Plan aiming to recruit 850 internationally educated healthcare workers over the coming two years, including additional training and retention strategies. An additional incentive strategy is providing up to $50,000 for a three year agreement to keep healthcare workers in hard-to-recruit positions in rural and remote parts of the province.

Hindley feels Saskatchewan’s aggressive strategy places the province as an attractive location for a variety of healthcare workers.

“I won’t disagree it’s competitive. We’re competing with every other province and territory in the country right now. And even beyond our borders. We see this in the States. We see this in European countries. But, as we’ve heard today from the first three that have come to Southwest Saskatchewan, they’ve all chosen Saskatchewan. They’ve picked Saskatchewan. They have friends and family here who have lived here, some working in healthcare, some working in other fields, who have nothing but phenomenal things to say about our communities and about our province. They want to be here.”

Hindley was unable to definitively comment on how many specific workers through the Health Human Resources Action Plan are to be added in Swift Current and the Southwest.

“I don’t know if we’ve got a specific number that we’re able to speak of at this point in time,” he said. “What we do know is we’ve identified that there are a number of vacancies that are currently posted, both at the Hospital and at The Meadows. It would be a combination of healthcare workers coming from places like the Philippines, but also trying to target those, as I said earlier, are born and raised and trained here in Saskatchewan as well.”

“I think the officials at the Ministry level and at the SHA would be working to make sure that we’re try to make sure that there’s a well balance across the province because we know we have needs in healthcare facilities across Saskatchewan.”

He did allude that in addition to the $60 million Health Human Resources Action Plan, plus a recent $5.5 million expenditure to add over 550 training seats at 18 different healthcare training programs, additional support is on the horizon for healthcare.

“And there will be more in the budget coming up as we continue to advance this program. We’re not going to let our foot off the gas on this.”