News

Sep
16

2016
Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region is planning for layoffs

The Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region (RQHR) will be issuing layoff notices after a two-year review of staffing in 117 round-the-clock care units.

Fewer than 20 people will lose their jobs, but all positions are being considered, said Keith Dewar, CEO of the RQHR.

Over two years, a number of RQHR positions have been eliminated through attrition.

“That’s been our commitment all along,” Dewar said. “Our interest here is providing quality, safe care. Our second obligation to the public is to do so in a way that shows responsibility for the funds that we’ve been entrusted.”

The RQHR’s annual budget is more than $1 billion. As of August, it had a $4.7-million deficit. 

Every week, the region logs 300,000 paid hours. To get to a balanced budget, the region must reduce paid hours by 120 per week, Dewar said.

The RQHR has 11,000 staff and an eight-per-cent attrition rate, which means roughly 800 employees leave yearly.

“By the time we have the meetings with the unions and go through the formal process, we don’t believe in some cases some of the numbers we’re looking at right now would be given layoff notice,” Dewar said.

While some frontline health-care workers will be among those receiving layoff notices, they will be able to bump to another position under their collective agreements.

Dewar couldn’t estimate how much money will be saved by the layoffs because staff numbers change constantly.

Three full-time and two part-time management positions will not be filled and savings will be re-directed to front-line services in long-term care.

For some time, the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses (SUN) has raised concerns that registered nurses (RNs) are being replaced by licensed practical nurses (LPNs).

When asked if this could happen, Dewar replied: “For RNs or LPNs, what’s really important is how you organize that care team to deliver quality care and there is a substantive overlap between the two professional groups.”

He emphasized it’s important to assess what care is required by patients and who can best deliver that care.

CUPE Local 3967 president Scott McDonald said Friday’s announcement was news to him.

The local represents most RQHR workers who aren’t RNs, including those in housekeeping and maintenance, dietary professionals, technicians and LPNs.

CUPE has had brief conversations with the health region, but McDonald didn’t think the layoffs were a firm thing until he heard Friday’s announcement.

He said CUPE’s 5,500 members are already overloaded.

“These layoffs are going to affect patient care. I don’t see any way of getting around that,” said McDonald.

SUN president Tracy Zambory agreed.

There are already “huge challenges” when it comes to staffing, said Zambory.

She pointed to the 28-per-cent increase in critical incidents as reported in the Healthy Ministry’s annual report released in July. That includes errors in medication and diagnosis.

“Regional health authorities have been told they have to come up with efficiencies; that translates down always to the frontline staff,” Zambory said.

Realigning staff won’t impact services, bed numbers or programs, Dewar said.

On Thursday, the Saskatoon Health Region issued 70 layoff notices.

Numerous factors could explain the difference in the number of layoff notices the province’s two largest health regions are handing out — including the SHR’s larger deficit, Dewar said.

Published: September 16, 2016

Source: Regina LeaderPost http://www.thestarphoenix.com/news/regina+27appelle+health+region+planning+layoffs/12199183/story.html