For Immediate Release – July 27, 2016
Saskatoon – Members and leaders of the Service Employees International Union West (SEIU-West) are carefully examining the latest efforts of Saskatoon Health Region (SHR) to address its $36 million budget deficit. SHR announced two new measures today: a two-month freeze on external hiring of in-scope staff, and a process that will pay out-of-scope staff to resign.
“We’ve been hearing for months that SHR is facing a budget crisis,” said Barbara Cape, President of SEIU-West. “There have been a lot of rumours and uncertainty about where SHR would find savings. All this uncertainty has caused a lot of anxiety for our members and the patients, residents, clients, and families that they care for.”
Cape expressed relief that the measures announced today did not include layoffs. She said she was “cautiously optimistic” that the hiring freeze will allow the thousands of part-time and casual employees in SHR to pick up additional shifts, “so they can earn enough to make ends meet instead of having to quit to seek full-time work elsewhere.”
However, many uncertainties remain. “Our members are open to change in health care,” Cape said, “if we can be sure that the changes will actually improve care and save money. We don’t know yet if the impact of the measures announced today will result in better health care.”
Cape stated that the main responsibility for these and other troubling uncertainties in health care lies with the Saskatchewan government. “The government failed in planning properly for population growth, rising health care needs, and the end of the resource boom. Now they are musing about the need for ‘transformative change’ and demanding the health regions find 40 million dollars in further savings.”
Cape expressed concern that under pressure to find savings, health region management might ignore rising workloads. “This budget ‘crisis’ should not be used as an excuse to starve the public system of essential funding. The notion of moving to a privatized healthcare system just doesn’t work – you only have to look to the U.S. healthcare system to see that,” said Cape.
SEIU-West represents more than 13,000 Saskatchewan workers. Our members work in health care, hospitals, home care, long-term care facilities, schools, group homes, day cares, crisis services, municipalities, retirement homes and private businesses. Joined by one union – SEIU-West – and one colour – purple – SEIU-West members work in our communities. Visit PurpleWorks.ca to find out more about the issues that matter to the members of SEIU-West and their communities.
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For more information, contact:
Catherine Gendron, Project Coordinator
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