09/24/2014 03:45 EDT | Updated 11/24/2014 05:59 EST

Brad Wall names Greg Ottenbreit new rural health minister in Saskatchewan

REGINA - Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall has tapped a cabinet rookie to take over his government's rural health care portfolio and says he wants the new minister to make recruiting health workers to rural areas a top priority.

Greg Ottenbreit, who was sworn in on Wednesday, is replacing Tim McMillan, who resigned last week to become president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

"We've got some work to do on the file," Wall said.

"We've made some progress there — many more doctors practising than before we took office, many more nurses we have in the province than before. But we need to make sure that we're getting those services in rural centres as well."

Ottenbreit said it was sobering to receive the call from Wall and he is honoured to accept the position.

He said both his professional and personal experiences will help to shape his time in the role.

"Having a son that had cancer and passed away, or a father we just lost to cancer last winter, those experiences spending a lot of time in hospitals gives you a different view as well," he said.

"I'm hoping to draw from all that to bring to this position and hopefully make some changes."

Ottenbreit was first elected as the member of the legislature for Yorkton in 2007.

Wall said the rural portfolio requires an understanding of the concerns of rural communities, patients and health-care providers.