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Occupational therapy, speech language pathology programs coming to U of S

The Government of Saskatchewan is investing approximately $8.1 million to establish two new programs. Slavo Kutas / Global News

The Saskatchewan provincial government is harnessing homegrown talent, with the new Occupational Therapy (OT) Program and Speech Language Pathology (SLP) Training Program at the University of Saskatchewan.

This is exciting news to speech language pathologist, Jill Morgan. She’s noticed a steady increase in demand for services, with many patients facing a six-to-eight month wait.

“For me, communication is so important, being able to communicate is a huge part of who we are connects directly to behaviour,” she said on Friday. “If our little people can’t communicate, often they communicate in different ways. So we’ll see sometimes more behaviour, sometimes more frustration, or sometimes a turning in — where when it’s so challenging to make yourself understood, how hard will you try before you stop trying?”

She added speech pathologists help people of all ages, and it’s worrisome if someone has to wait for services after suffering a brain injury or a stroke.

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“We need to get to the clients as quickly as we can to support them and coach caregivers and partners in what they can do to help along the rehabilitation pathway.”

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Both of the new programs — which are targeted to begin in the fall of 2026 — will be two-year Masters programs that will accept up to 40 students per year.

A release from the province said these programs will place more professionals into the health-care sector sooner, as U of S students will be able to undertake clinical placements as early as their first year of studies. Until the programs start, Saskatchewan students can continue accessing reserved seats in occupational therapy and speech language pathology in Alberta through the government’s interprovincial agreement programs.

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan purchases additional education spaces for speech-language pathology'
Saskatchewan purchases additional education spaces for speech-language pathology

Health Minister Everett Hindley said the government heard concerns that these professions were in high demand and more needed to be done to attract and retain students.

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“A key pillar of our Health Human Resources Action Plan is to create training opportunities here at home for Saskatchewan students passionate about a career in health care while encouraging them to choose to live and work in the province after graduation,” he said.

Speech-Language & Audiology Canada Provincial Advocacy Manager Jennifer Cameron-Turley said the opening of the SLP program signals a new era in practice for the province.

“The dream of a made-in-Saskatchewan speech language pathology program has been a long time coming,” Cameron-Turley said. “There’s a lot of work yet to do, but this is an incredible beginning.”

The Government of Saskatchewan is investing approximately $8.1 million to establish the programs.

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