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Sask. health region consolidation to save millions: health minister

Sask. health region consolidation to save millions: health minister
WATCH ABOVE: The provincial government is attaching numbers to its plan to form a single provincial health authority. Governance costs are expected to go down by $700,000 annually. But the impact on employees remains unknown. Ryan Kessler reports.

The Saskatchewan government’s plan to combine 12 regional health authorities into one entity has the potential to save $10 million to $20 million by 2018-19, according to Health Minister Jim Reiter.

The consolidation was announced last week in an effort to trim costs and better coordinate health care delivery.

READ MORE: Sask. doctors say health region consolidation mammoth task, but could improve care

Though Reiter offered no indication of how many people could lose their jobs, he noted that 12 health region CEOs and 62 vice-presidents are currently employed.

“Obviously, there will be significantly less than that when we move to one board,” Reiter said.

The province expects the change from a dozen boards of directors to a single, province-wide board to save about $700,000 annually.

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Consolidating information technology services delivered across the health system could potentially save about $9 million, according to the province’s figures.

WATCH: Affected parties react to Saskatchewan’s move to one health authority

Affected parties react to Saskatchewan’s move to one health authority
Affected parties react to Saskatchewan’s move to one health authority

A reduction in senior executive salaries is also expected.

“Every dollar that we can save can certainly be put to good use in the healthcare system,” Reiter said.

A transition team is being put together, which will include officials from the Ministry of Health, along with clinical and health system members.

Prospective board members should have experience in business, accounting, law and possibly health care, Reiter said.

Regina or Saskatoon could serve as the headquarters for new the board, though no decisions have been made.

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READ MORE: From 12 to 1: Sask. Government will move to single Provincial Health Authority

After the province announced the plan to move to a single authority, the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) stated it’s prepared to create a “culturally relevant health system” in Saskatchewan.

“Indigenous peoples in Saskatchewan have been taking a greater role in the design and delivery of health services in the province. Our treaty right to health continues to be eroded,” FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron said in a news release.

Provincial officials hope to meet with the FSIN and plan to have indigenous representation on the new authority’s board.

In a statement, NDP health critic Danielle Chartier called Tuesday’s announcement “an attempt to cover for their lack of facts last week.”

“Now, a week later, they say they have estimates but, at the same time, they say this isn’t about money savings. They say it’s about patient care, but then they say patient care won’t be impacted,” she said.

In 2008, Alberta amalgamated its health authorities into one ‘superboard’ – a process later deemed rushed by the Health Quality Council of Alberta.

“In Alberta, some people in rural areas they complained about how all the big decisions about the administration of system were made in Edmonton,” said Daniel Béland, Canada research chair in public policy at the University of Saskatchewan.

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Saskatchewan’s move from 12 boards to one is expected to happen by fall.