Saskatchewan seeing shortage of speech pathologists

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This article originally appeared in Battlefords Now and features Loredana Cuglietta, chair of Speech-Language and Audiology Canada.

Saskatchewan and the rest of Canada are struggling with a shortage of speech pathologists. Speech pathology is the study and treatment of speech and language problems.

Loredana Cuglietta, chair of Speech-Language and Audiology Canada, says that the number of speech pathologists in Canada is not enough to meet the needs of the population. According to Cuglietta, part of the reason for the province’s shortage is the lack of a master’s program for speech-language pathology.

“There is funding for people to attend the University of Alberta master’s program, but there’s no school in Saskatchewan,” she said. “Saskatchewan needs an in-Saskatchewan type of initiative, and we do know that people are more likely to stay and work in the province that they were educated in.” Cuglietta explained that the shortage is being felt in the rural communities around the province. She said her organization is working to get speech pathology included in a student loan forgiveness program.

“We’re trying to include speech-language pathologists in that program, with a specific incentive for those who to start their practice in a rural area,” Cuglietta said.

She added that there were difficulties in the industry before the COVID pandemic, but the event highlighted the gaps and exacerbated them.

“People are tired, and we do have [fewer] people, definitely speech-language pathologists, in the workforce,” Cuglietta said. She believes having a program in Saskatchewan would have the largest impact when it comes to addressing the shortage. She also noted a lack of human resource data in the industry.

“SAC is advocating for the federal government to collect more of this type of data so that we have a better idea of how to plan from a human resource perspective across the country,” she said.

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