Catholic Health Care

Operating room of St. Paul's Hospital, Saskatoon, ca. early 1960s.
Heritage Room Archives, St. Paul's Hospital Saskatoon

In Saskatchewan, Catholic health care began when communities of religious women arrived in the region (North-West Territories). The first group, the Sisters of Charity of Montreal (Grey Nuns), came to the Ile-à-la-Crosse mission in 1860 and cared for the sick in their convent or in the people's homes.

Between 1907 and 1952, religious congregations established hospitals in many communities which otherwise would have been without such services, namely St. Paul's, Saskatoon*; Grey Nuns', Regina; Holy Family, Prince Albert; Notre Dame, North Battleford; St. Elizabeth's, Humboldt*; Providence, Moose Jaw; Gabriel, Ponteix; St. Joseph's, Macklin; St. Margaret's, Biggar; St. Theresa, Tisdale; St. Michael's, Cudworth; St. Joseph's, Ile-à-la-Crosse*; St. Joseph's, Gravelbourg*; St. Michael's, Broadview; St. Joseph's, Lestock; St. Joseph's, Estevan*; St. Anthony's, Esterhazy*; St. Peter's, Melville*; St. Martin's, LaLoche; Union, Leoville; Notre Dame, Val Marie; Community, Radville; Notre Dame de l'Assomption, Zenon Park (an asterisk indicates those still operating in 2004).

Care of the elderly was a concern, and over the years thirteen “Seniors' Homes” were established in Whitewood, Regina (two), Moose Jaw, Marcelin, Weyburn, Prince Albert, Radville, Saskatoon (two), Ponteix, Gravelbourg, and North Battleford.

The Catholic Hospital Conference of Saskatchewan was formed on May 27, 1943, under the direction of Emmett M. Hall, with seventeen member hospitals and three long-term care facilities, for a total of 2,007 beds. Membership grew to twenty-four hospitals and ten long-term care facilities. By 2004, seven hospitals, eight long-term care facilities, and two health centres were still operating as Catholic institutions; the Macklin and Radville hospitals were converted to Health Centres.

A name change to the Catholic Health Association of Saskatchewan (CHAS) occurred in 1986 to reflect the reality that health care now included long-term care. In the early 1990s, as health care began to focus on the community, the Association published a manual entitled Parish Home Ministry of Care. CHAS sponsors workshops, seminars and education conferences for its members and the general public, on topics relating to Mission, Ethics, Spiritual Care, Palliative Care, Spirituality, and other areas that impact on the Catholic health system. A newsletter, Communiqué, is published four times a year.

The Saskatchewan Catholic Health Corporation, founded in 1977 as the Catholic Health Council, is an ownership/sponsorship group under the direction of the Catholic Bishops of Saskatchewan. The Corporation provides leadership and direction in carrying forward the mission and identity of Catholic health care in facilities that have been transferred to it by religious congregations.

Sister Anne Collins

Further Reading

CHAS. 1993. Our Roots, A Promise: The Catholic Health Association of Saskatchewan, 1943-1993. Saskatoon: CHAS; Cellard, A. and G. Pelletier. 1990. Faithful to a Mission: Fifty Years with the Catholic Health Association of Canada. Ottawa: Catholic Health Association of Canada.