It’s an early Christmas present the government wasn’t hoping for, a billion dollar deficit.
“It’s a tough task to find savings,” Health minister Jim Reiter said, he’s been told to cut $64 million dollars from the healthcare budget.
But Reiter said it will not be at the expense of patient care.
“That’s why we’re looking at what the appropriate number of health regions should be and what the appropriate governance structure should be,” he said. “We want to make sure every dollar go towards front line care, instead of administration.”
Chair of the Saskatoon Health Region Mike Stensrud said over the last seven years they’ve saved 2 per cent each year from their budget.
“We will have to make an effort at cost cutting,” he said, but hasn’t been directed by the government on what to cut yet. “The challenge is certainly there for us.”
One of the things Stensrud thinks can save even more money is patients only using the hospital in an emergency.
“Only those who really need hospital care should be admitted,” he said.
“If you just have a cough, you shouldn’t come to the hospital.”
It costs around $800 each time somebody uses the emergency room.
Reiter said tough decisions are coming, but not until his health panel is back with their report in two weeks.
“We got some tough decisions to make ahead,” he said. “Healthcare is a priority and it’s all about being patient first.”
The provincial healthcare budget is $5 billion.