Union says 20 nursing jobs cut in Regina as health region faces budget woes

The Saskatchewan Union of Nurses says 20 employees are losing their jobs in the Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region. Global News / File

The Saskatchewan Union of Nurses says patient care could suffer as jobs are cut in the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region, specifically in mental health.

A memo provided to nurses by the health region says a review found the mental-health services at Regina General Hospital had too many positions and “continuing to operate this way is not sustainable.” It says 20 employees will be laid off.

READ MORE: Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region to issue layoff notices

The union says 11 of those employees are registered nurses and the majority are registered psychiatric nurses.

Union president Tracy Zambory says it’s disturbing because the needs and numbers of patients have not changed.

“These people are acutely mentally ill with very complex needs and they require a specialized level of care,” Zambory said in a phone interview Wednesday.

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“There’s no closure of beds. There’s still going to be the same pressure in that unit.”

Zambory said it’s possible the emergency room and other areas will be “trying to cope” with patients that require specialized mental-health services.

“We need to look at the long-term plan on how we’re going to deal with these complex issues, not this short-term ‘Let’s just look at the finances.”‘

Keith Dewar, the health region’s president and CEO, said on Sept. 16 that the region would be taking steps to better align staff resources with patient care as it tackles budget issues. A layoff notice does not necessarily equate to job loss because employees could move to other positions in the health region, he said.

The region’s 2016-17 operating budget is just over $1 billion.

The nurses union has also said 12 RNs will be losing their jobs as the Saskatoon Health Region cuts 70 positions in an attempt to balance its budget.

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