Saskatoon - While continuing to work towards the goals of minimizing impact on patient care and protecting services and programs, Saskatoon Health Region regrets to announce the jobs of approximately 70 people, both in-scope (unionized) and out-of-scope (non-unionized), are being affected by sustainability plan measures. Today, individual meetings took place with unionized staff to provide notice of layoff and explain what is happening to their position. Notification of voluntary separation to non-unionized employees, including managers, has been occurring over the past week.
“We have made these decisions knowing how difficult this is for employees across our Region,” says Dan Florizone, President and CEO of Saskatoon Health Region. “We built our sustainability plan on the principles of not compromising patient care and doing everything we can to protect frontline services while delivering health care in the most efficient way possible. We had hoped to avoid affecting the jobs of any of our over 11,000 employees. However, we knew that with over 70 per cent of our entire budget devoted to staffing, not affecting jobs was extremely unlikely.”
Over the past months, Saskatoon Health Region has been working to eliminate a gap between revenues and expenses and achieve a balanced budget. The Region’s $34 million cost-savings plan includes nearly 170 initiatives that eliminate the full-time equivalent of approximately 260 positions. Through the use of attrition and other measures, only a portion of these 260 positions result in layoffs and separations.
“We have worked with our union partners to make every effort to minimize job loss while focusing on quality care for our patients, residents and clients, and addressing our financial challenges. We held vacancies wherever possible, instituted an external hiring freeze, and implemented an out-of-scope voluntary separation program. We reduced overtime costs by nearly 20 per cent through a predictive model that allows us to plan ahead and staff according to the demand for service, and we eliminated or reduced third-party grants. All of this was done in an effort to minimize job loss,” says Florizone.
Saskatoon Health Region ended its 2015-16 fiscal year with a deficit of $35.7 million, lower than expected, but the Region continues to face significant financial challenges. Based on July financial estimates, the Region’s $1.2 billion 2016-17 budget currently contains a $30.8 million gap between expenses and revenues.
“As a public organization, with a responsibility to taxpayers, a balanced budget must be achieved and with that, job loss has been unavoidable,” says Florizone. “It’s a direction none of us wanted to take and we are doing our utmost to support those affected and their coworkers during this time.”
The number of people in unionized positions who may ultimately be without a job won’t be known for a number of weeks given the collective agreement process that needs to be respected. This may result in some individuals being able to “bump” others with lesser seniority.
“We are making many other smaller changes throughout the Region, trying to minimize the impact on our people and on any one client group or area,” says Florizone. “We remain optimistic that we are moving towards the right decisions about care delivery, from re-designing alternate level of care (ALC) services to adjusting how we deliver urgent care to the community. We need to make tangible system changes based on the right service being delivered in the right way by the right people. It’s the only way we are going to make the system sustainable for the future. The path won’t be easy and there remain difficult decisions ahead.”
For more information about Saskatoon Health Region’s budget, please visit www.saskatoonhealthregion.ca/budget/
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