Sask. Premier Brad Wall

Premier Brad Wall says if fewer people went to emergency departments with non-emergencies, it would mean faster service for those truly in need of immediate care. (CBC)

Although emergency room waits are fairly common nowadays, Saskatchewan's Premier Brad Wall says his goal is to have no waits by 2017.

The catch is, he wants fewer people to go to emergency rooms if their problems are not true emergencies.

Instead, the hope is they can be directed to clinics.

"If we can have an ongoing effort in this regard and if we have even our front-line people in emergency rooms saying in a way that's caring or compassionate ... 'It's just across the street and we think you can get the attention you need' — I think it's all hands on deck," Wall said.

Wall admits it is a big goal and will take many people and ideas to achieve it. Increasing public awareness about medical clinics which are open at night and can help people whose issues are not urgent is just one of those ideas.

Wall says he recently met an ER nurse from Calgary who says that has worked in her city.

"She said we have shorter wait times now because the people in the ER need emergency services, by and large, and those who don't are getting attention at clinics," he said.

A new contract for ER doctors should also help to keep more of them working in the province, he said.

If the goal of 'zero' wait times is not met, then setting the goal and answering to it publicly should at least mean the government is on the right path, he said.