Saskatchewan

Sask. planning to redeploy government workers to help health-care system, looking for 500 volunteers

The Saskatchewan Health Authority is developing a plan to redeploy public-sector employees to help deal with staff shortages during a surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Many health-care workers off sick due to COVID-19

The Regina General Hospital on Jan. 7, 2022. (Cory Herperger/CBC News)

The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) is developing a plan to redeploy public-sector employees to help deal with staff shortages during a surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations.

The plan is being put together by Saskatchewan's emergency operations centre and the SHA.

Part of the plan includes taking government employees from other departments and deploying them into health care to help in non-medical roles such as meal preparation, cleaning and administrative duties.

The purpose of the plan is to address a rise in hospital admissions and the number of staff off sick due to COVID-19.

CBC obtained an email distributed to government employees on Jan. 18 that provides more details on what the SHA is looking for.

The email says the SHA wants to find approximately 500 employees across the province who would be willing to assist if needed.

The SHA is looking for groups of 10 to 20 people in each of the province's 31 health networks and 50 people each in Saskatoon and Regina. 

"While support is needed across the entire province, the need is especially great in the North," the email reads. 

Any employee volunteering for the duty must be fully vaccinated and able to respond to the SHA's call on the same day or the day after.

The email notes that the volunteers could be deployed to hospitals, long-term care facilities, testing centres, public health clinics or other public-facing health services.

"While projections indicate a high likelihood of need within the next week or two, individual deployments are anticipated to be short in nature," the email reads, saying the deployments would last one to two weeks. 

"Employees being redeployed will be helping in facilities during their regularly scheduled hours of work and during their regular days of work."

When asked for comment the SHA said they had no further information beyond what was already in this report. 

LISTEN| Saskatchewan Union Of Nurses president says more health-care workers are reaching their limit 

The provincial emergency operations centre told The Canadian Press that no staff have been redeployed at this time.

The Saskatchewan Party government has reassigned public service employees to support issues related to COVID-19 throughout the pandemic. Their roles have included contact tracing and data entry. 

Recent modelling from the government suggests Saskatchewan's COVID-19 hospitalizations will reach record levels by mid-February.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alexander Quon is a reporter with CBC Saskatchewan based in Regina. After working in Atlantic Canada for four years he's happy to be back in his home province. He has previously worked with the CBC News investigative unit in Nova Scotia and Global News in Halifax. Alexander specializes in data-reporting, COVID-19 and municipal political coverage. He can be reached at: Alexander.Quon@cbc.ca.

With files from the Canadian Press

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