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Physician leaders gather to learn about Alberta’s experience with amalgamation

Physician leaders from across the province who gather this week for the 2018 Fall Representative Assembly (RA) of the Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA) will hear some of the lessons learned during the amalgamation of health services in Alberta, a process that began 10 years ago in Alberta and only started last year in Saskatchewan.

The Representative Assembly meets twice a year to discuss and debate issues related to the medical profession and the provision of health care in Saskatchewan. The 2018 Fall RA will be held Friday, Nov. 2, and Saturday, Nov. 3, at the Hotel Saskatchewan in Regina.

“The Representative Assembly is a key forum for physicians to hear from the health minister, to learn about developments in health care and to voice their opinions on issues of concern,” said SMA president Dr. Siva Karunakaran, a Regina nephrologist.

The RA comes almost one year after the formation of the Saskatchewan Health Authority, which began operations on Dec. 4, 2017, replacing the former 12 regional health authorities. Alberta amalgamated into a single health entity in 2008.

One of the RA sessions features Dr. Verna Yiu, CEO of Alberta Health Services. She is scheduled to give a talk called: “Lessons learned from Alberta’s Amalgamation Journey: A Physician Leader’s Perspective,” on Friday, Nov. 2, at 10:45 a.m.

“We will learn about Alberta’s experience with health system amalgamation from Dr. Verna Yiu,” noted Dr. Karunakaran. “Her perspective as a physician will be important as physicians in this province take up key leadership roles within the Saskatchewan Health Authority.”

Dr. Karunakaran also noted sessions on physician wellness are on the agenda of the RA, with a report on the International Physician Health Conference held in Toronto in October, and a session on Resilience and Workplace Mental Health by Dr. Marie-Helene Pelletier, a Vancouver-based psychologist (Friday, Nov. 2, 1:15 p.m.).

“Physician wellness is an area of deep concern within the profession,” Dr. Karunakaran said. “The SMA is mindful of the need for physicians to look after themselves so they can best look after their patients. We hope to learn more about this issue at the RA.”

Health Minister Jim Reiter is also scheduled to address RA delegates and guests on Friday, Nov. 2,  at 9 a.m., to be followed by a question and answer session.

The 2018 Fall RA agenda, which is available at, includes:

Friday, Nov. 2

8:45 a.m.

SMA president’s address

Dr. Siva Karunakaran

9 a.m.

Health Minister’s address, followed by Q&A with delegates

Hon. Jim Reiter


Lessons learned from Alberta’s amalgamation journey: A physician leader’s perspective

Dr. Verna Yiu, CEO, Alberta Health Services

1:15 p.m.

Resilience and workplace mental health

Dr. Marie-Helene Pelletier

4 p.m.





The Representative Assembly is the governing body of the Saskatchewan Medical Association. Representatives from regional medical associations and specialty sections as well as those representing medical students and residents meet twice a year, in the spring and the fall. Acting on behalf of the membership, the assembly has authority to set broad as well as specific policies. It elects the SMA Board of Directors, approves the association’s annual budget and appoints the association’s auditors. It also sets annual membership dues.

The Saskatchewan Medical Association ( is a voluntary, member-based, professional association for physicians, medical students and residents in the province and it is the provincial chapter of the Canadian Medical Association. As the trusted voice of Saskatchewan’s more than 2,400 practising physicians, the SMA negotiates for and on behalf of doctors; supports the educational, professional, economic and personal well-being of physicians; and advocates for a high-quality and patient-centred health-care system.

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