Sask. doctor says he lost sleep over decision to take Ontario job

Saskatoon intensive care physician Dr. Hassan Masri says he has taken a leadership role in Ontario.

"This was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made and I certainly did lose sleep over it," he said in social media posts.

In a response to a comment to his Facebook post, he said that "50% of this decision was indirectly forced upon me by a failed leader like (Premier) Scott Moe. A leader that had the time to call the anti-vaccine and anti-mask mandate leader but never had a chance to listen to my private and public messages and pleas despite endless attempts to speak to him directly and privately."

He said the last straw was Moe and Health Minister Paul Merriman's decision not to fund Prairie Harm Reduction.

"Instead of being in a system that reduces harm and looks out for people I now can watch people overdose and die from the window of my hospital’s ICU. This leader will drain this province of all those who wish to see change. I am not the first to leave and there are many who have left and some who will be leaving silently in the weeks to come."

During Question Period at the Legislature, the NDP addressed Masri's decision.

“Does the Premier recognize his choices are chasing away Saskatchewan doctors? We’re losing our best and our brightest,” said NDP Leader Ryan Meili.

Moe recognized Masri's departure and noted the need to fill healthcare openings in the province.

“You need to go beyond just filling those positions and adding additional positions across the board," Moe said.

Masri joins Dr. Kevin Wasko, a former Swift Current emergency department doctor and executive with the Saskatchewan Health Authority who left leaving his senior role to work in Ontario earlier this year.

Wasko said at the time that "there are frustrations when some clinical or medical advice" isn’t implemented by government.

The Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA) says it’s always regrettable when doctors leave the province.

The SMA conducted an online survey in February which drew almost 400 responses, with nearly 49 per cent saying their mental health was worse than prior to the pandemic and 17 per cent saying it was much worse.

In addition, 54 per cent planned to reduce their clinical hours over the next two years.

“There are clear indications that physicians in the province are tired they're burning out,” SMA President Dr. John Gjevre told CTV News.

“The pandemic has been very stressful on physicians but also the entire population and there is a need for more mental health resources."

Masri says he will continue to work in Saskatchewan but on a much smaller scale.