Health Sciences Association of Saskatchewan


Chronic Under-Staffing at Heart of Health Care Strike Action

Saskatoon (June 14, 2011) – The Health Sciences Association of Saskatchewan, the union which represents more than three-thousand specialized health care professionals, says unsafe staffing levels, every bit as much as competitive wages and benefits, are at the heart of its ongoing contract dispute with health care employers.

“Health region CEOs, whose annual cash bonuses now depend on reducing expenditures, can no longer be trusted to provide Saskatchewan people with the professional staff needed to provide high quality, safe health care services, without additional public scrutiny,” Health Sciences President Cathy Dickson said.

“The Wall government has allowed health regions to balance their budgets by under-staffing our specialized health care professions, which risks the health of many patients, and forces others to wait unacceptable lengths of time for needed health care services,” Dickson said.

“Throughout our contract negotiations, we have proposed a system of ‘professional standards’ for the staffing of our specialized health care professions. This protection was given to Registered Nurses and their patients in 2008. It simply makes staffing of our professions more public, transparent and fully accountable to the media and the general public,” Dickson noted.

“Anyone who claims health care managers can be trusted to properly staff health care services without additional public scrutiny, needs to think about some of the health care service issues we have raised in recent months and ask:

  • Why are there so few perfusionists – the specialists who operate heart-lung machines during heart surgery – that surgeries have been cancelled in Saskatoon?
  • Why are Saskatchewan’s under-staffed ambulance services failing to meet national standards for safe response times an average of 7 times a day in Rural Saskatchewan and 10 times a day in our cities?
  • Why does Saskatchewan have the lowest per capita levels of Physical Therapists and Audiologists in Western Canada? (Canadian Institute for Health Information – CIHI)
  • Why does Saskatchewan have the lowest per capita levels of Respiratory Therapists and Occupational Therapists in all of Canada? (Canadian Institute for Health Information – CIHI)
  • Why are Saskatchewan waiting lists for critical children’s services like hearing assessments, autism diagnostic assessments and tests for fetal alcohol disorder a year or more?
  • Why are mental health programs in many health regions in disarray?

“This contract dispute is not only about achieving competitive wages and benefits to help with the recruitment and retention of our specialized health care professionals. It is also about forcing health care managers to publicly account for their chronic under-staffing of health care professions, and the danger that under-staffing has created for Saskatchewan patients,” Dickson concluded.

For Further Information Contact:

Cathy Dickson (President, Health Sciences)

Background Documents:

The Canadian Institute for Health Information
Job Action Continues in Saskatoon

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