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Saskatchewan Health Authority launches, replacing 12 provincial health regions

Click to play video: 'Operations start at Saskatchewan Health Authority' Operations start at Saskatchewan Health Authority
WATCH ABOVE: There is now one health authority for the province as the Saskatchewan Health Authority officially begins operations. – Dec 4, 2017

Big changes to Saskatchewan health care were implemented on Monday. Twelve health regions dissolved to form one provincial body called the Saskatchewan Health Authority.

The authority became official at a meeting consisting of 10 board members and five administrative supports including the new CEO, Scott Livingstone.

“The biggest difference is it’s under a single governance model so there’s no 12 board of directors and 12 leadership teams,” Livingstone explained. “There’s been a significant reduction in the most senior level opportunities or rolls within the organization.”

READ MORE: Saskatchewan Medical Association worried about delivering services to rural areas

Decision-making power and budgeting power now belongs to the to Sask. Health Authority.

“From a patient perspective, nothing changes on day one,” Livingstone said. “The phone numbers that a patient called yesterday to access care across the health care system have remained the same.”

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The hope is to streamline processes within three to five years. Livingstone believes services for patients will be improved but the provincial NDP is skeptical.

At Monday’s question period, NDP health critic Danielle Chartier voiced her concerns.

“It has already cost tax payers $4 million in executive severance packages alone,” said Chartier, who claims the new board is stacked with Saskatchewan Party supporters.

The amalgamation process began in 2016 with an advisory panel review.

“We’re implementing all the recommendations that that panel suggested,” Saskatchewan Health Minister Jim Reiter said. “This is a huge undertaking. There’s 40-some thousand people that work in the healthcare field in this province.”

READ MORE: Saskatchewan Health Authority releases organizational structure, logo

Alberta paved the way in 2008 toward an amalgamated health system and has since designated zones to ensure the differing concerns that are specific to communities are still heard.

“As a board, we are very aware of the need for the board to make sure that there is communication channels from all parts of the province and that this does not become a Saskatoon- or Regina-centered organization,” board chair Dick Carter said.

The amalgamation results in an 86 per cent reduction of senior administrative staff and a cost savings of $9 million annually.

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