In May of this year, HSAS members from across Saskatchewan gathered in Saskatoon as delegates to the HSAS Bargaining Conference. Over the two day Bargaining Conference delegates had the opportunity to receive the results of the recent Bargaining survey and hear speakers who provided an environmental scan of the current political and economic climates as well as forecasts for the future.
Delegates also had the opportunity to provide input into the Bargaining process as the Negotiating Committee prepares for bargaining a new collective agreement in 2018. The Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is an agreement between two parties: SAHO, the Bargaining Agent for the health regions, and HSAS. When a tentative agreement is reached, it must be ratified by the membership of HSAS and the health regions. Since it is an agreement between both parties– there is an obligation on both parties to abide by the language and terms of the new collective bargaining agreement.
During the conference, delegates also shared their perspective about the work environment faced by our HSAS members each and every day. There were many concerns expressed of how services provided by HSAS health care professionals, are being eroded with layoffs, vacancy management, and overall limited manpower. Although our HSAS members have the skills and specialized training to provide needed services in a timely and efficient manner, Government and/or health region policies are leading to changes which are causing eroded and inefficient service delivery. As a result, our members are seeing negative health outcomes for Saskatchewan’s public. Frustrations ran high at this Bargaining Conference. Each of us chose our respective fields of training and specialization. Some of us provide care to individuals and some of us provide care to families and even entire communities. We want to contribute in a meaningful way. We struggle with employer edicts that direct us to compromise our internal professional compasses. We find ourselves apologizing to our clients, patients, and communities- for the less than optimal levels of service available to them. We know that staffing levels are shortchanging their well-being and their quality of life.
Over the years and when appropriate, we had moved care beyond the walls of our hospitals into the communities and homes of our province’s residents. Health and well-being of every individual was valued. Today, as a union representing specialized health care professionals, we are seeing the deliberate erosion of programs that evolved to meet the needs of our province’s residents. It appears to be becoming less a health care system and more a health for profit system.
This past spring, we witnessed the provincial budget for 2017-2018. It contained cuts to services that would touch and impact many Saskatchewan residents, including the most vulnerable– cuts to audiology services, to parenting and mentoring programs, education, social services, communities, and public programs. Few were untouched.
It’s not possible to continue slicing resources while piling on greater expectations on fewer care providers. All the cleverly designed pamphlets and newsletters expounding how good everything is, ring hollow. That message was clearly delivered by HSAS members at the Bargaining Conference.
Going forward, HSAS will continue to advocate for its members and the people of Saskatchewan and their health.