Despite urbanization, more than a third of the Saskatchewan population – 36% – still lives in rural areas. These areas have been hurt by economic restructuring in farming and forestry, young people moving out, deteriorating infrastructure, and restructuring of health and education services.
Government cutbacks in health and social services have led to a decline of primary services in communities, and in turn have forced communities to look to community groups and residents to provide care and services to a population that is aging. One result of these developments is that rural people’s health status is relatively poor when compared with that of people in urban communities.
A key approach to our work in Rural Health is that SPHERU research is not simply conducted on rural communities but is done in conjunction with these communities. The rationale is that to best bring about change at the local level, it is important to involve local partners early and often.