One day after the Saskatoon Health Region announced 70 jobs are being cut, the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region announced layoffs are also part of its prescription for saving money.
The RQHR said over the last two years, a review of staffing was carried out of over 100 rural and long-term care units that provide 24-hour support.
CEO Keith Dewar confirmed job losses are coming within the region, which could include registered nurses and other frontline staff. While he can’t say for sure how many job cuts are coming, he estimated it wouldn’t be many.
“It’s a small number. It’s not a thousand, it’s not a hundred, it’s not 50. It’s a small number,” he clarified.
He said things are likely to change so it’s hard to say for certain, but guessed the total number of job losses could be fewer than 20.
Dewar is assuring the public it won’t feel any affects of this decision. He said it’s part of a realignment the region is currently undertaking, where it’s looking at providing care that adds value.
“The commitment is if we can do it more efficiently and more effectively and still provide the same amount of care we’ll do that. In this case, there will be no impact on the quality of care or the access to care.”
“It’s quite clear that not everything we do is good and appropriate,” he continued.
Dewar stressed layoffs don’t necessarily translate into job losses. Some will have the opportunity to simply move to different positions within the region, including jobs that are currently filled. He said the RQHR currently has a number of nursing vacancies, should any nurses be laid off.
“It is our hope that the individuals affected will elect to pursue other opportunities elsewhere in the region,” he said. “We have looked carefully at ways to meet increasing demand effectively, while minimizing potential impact on our patients and staff.”
The region said there are also cuts at the top; three full-time and two part-time administrative posts aren’t being filled.
Dewar revealed as of August, the year-to-date deficit the health region is carrying is $4.7 million. The region’s operating budget is just over $1 billion.
The union representing the largest number of health care workers within the region was surprised with the announcement.
“We know that RQHR is facing financial challenges, but we were not expecting a press conference today announcing layoffs,” said Scott McDonald, president of CUPE Local 3967.
The union called the layoffs “concerning”, and added there is a lot of uncertainty regarding what this will mean for workers.
“Frontline workers are already faced with challenges from increasing workload and staff shortage issues,” said McDonald. “We need more investment in staffing, not less.”