December 11, 2015 6:19 pm
Updated: December 14, 2015 6:25 am

Pending job cuts in the Saskatoon Health Region postponed until 2016

WATCH ABOVE: With a $45 million deficit looming, the Saskatoon Health Region announced job cuts will have to be made. But, as Meaghan Craig finds out, the region has now postponed all decisions until the New Year and has put the onus on staff to help cut costs before then.

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SASKATOON – Seven weeks of walking on egg shells or even longer. Mixed news coming out of the Saskatoon Health Region (SHR) on Friday, pending job cuts are being pushed back and staff are now being asked to try to save themselves.

Originally, the axe was set to fall and job cuts were to be made in SHR within the next few days.

Instead, a memo was sent to all employees and physicians in the region on Thursday, telling them job loss will not occur right away.

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READ MORE: Saskatoon organizations scramble to find funding after SHR grant cuts

“I think taking the time to develop a thoughtful approach is good,” said Andrew Will, who was named the interim president and CEO for the region when Dan Florizone took a medical leave after pending job cuts were announced in late November.

“I think engaging people around the decisions that we’ll make and making sure that we’re making the decisions possible to minimize impact patient care and job loss I think that adds that value so it’s worth taking that time to develop that thoughtful approach.”

Health care providers are now being asked to pull up their socks and help save money that’s bleeding from the region’s budget. That could be a reduction in unnecessary overtime or supply costs, any small change that will add up to big dollars.

“With the magnitude of our financial challenge, facing a potentially $45 million gap I think we can reduce that $45 million problem by managing our way through parts of this challenge,” said Will.

“But given the magnitude of that gap, we know that it will result in the services we provide and it result in job loss but our goal is to work hard to minimize that.”

Approximately 70 plus per cent of the health region’s costs are staff but there are also anticipated surges in patient volumes predicted for January.

Saskatoon Health Region’s predictive model for late 2014/2015.

Which why is Dionne Pohler, an assistant professor with the Johnson-Shoyama graduate school of public policy, says SHR is between a rock and a hard place.

“I think when you’re in an organization that’s particularly a public sector organization where the vast majority of your costs are labour costs it’s really difficult to reduce the size of the deficit without addressing labour costs.”

When exactly job loss will occur is still unknown but Pohler says the decision to delay the process is the right one.

“Sometimes doing it quickly may cause more damage in the long run around reduced health care quality or making a mistake in terms of what programs are being cut and so I think that a lot needs to go into in an organization as complex as the Saskatoon Health Region,” she said.

Dionne Pohler, assistant professor with the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy

Pohler also says during situations like these transparency is crucial and SHR promises to do just that in the memo.

“As our planning  progresses, we will ensure that we provide information as soon as it is available.”

© 2015 Shaw Media

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