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Contract Talks Break Off when Health Care Employers Refuse to Release Information on Staffing and Patient Service Levels

Regina (November 17, 2010) – The President of the Health Sciences Association of Saskatchewan, Cathy Dickson, says the union has broken off contract talks with health care employers over the employers’ refusal to release information about current staffing levels for the specialized health care professions it represents, and the impact these staffing decisions are having on the quality of health care services provided to Saskatchewan patients.

“We believe Saskatchewan patients are suffering and being put at risk by inadequate staffing levels for many of the specialized health care professions we represent. Health care employers seem determined to balance their budgets on the backs of patients and specialized health care professionals,” Dickson said.

“Nearly two months ago at the bargaining table, Health Sciences formally put fundamental workplace questions to the health care employers and their bargaining representative, SAHO (Saskatchewan Association of Health Organizations). We asked SAHO to answer the following questions: What do they consider to be the full, province-wide staffing complement for each of our more than thirty professional groups? What level of service do they expect those staffing levels to provide to patients? How many vacancies do they currently have among our professional groups? What impact have these vacancies had on service levels, waiting lists and response times for the public? This week, SAHO refused to answer any of these questions, so we have suspended bargaining,” Dickson reported.

“Health Sciences strongly believes the public has a right to know this kind of basic health care workplace information. Is SAHO saying health care employers are so inefficient they can’t answer these workplace questions or are they trying to hide this information from the public, because it will expose just how poorly they are providing health care services?” Dickson asked.

“We want to get on with helping to improve staffing levels, and helping to improve the recruitment and retention of these specialized professionals, so Saskatchewan patients will be better served. The intransigence of SAHO and health care employers is all that stands in the way of this goal being met. Their refusal to answer fundamental questions or to engage in meaningful negotiations is frustrating for our members and disheartening for the patients we serve. Contrary to their claims, these health care employers are refusing to put patients first,” Dickson concluded.

Health Sciences is the union which represents more than three-thousand specialized health care professionals from more than thirty health care professions. Health Sciences members include: Emergency care workers like Paramedics; Acute care workers like Hospital Pharmacists, Perfusionists, and Respiratory Therapists; Rehab professionals like Physical Therapists and Speech Language Pathologists; and Community-based professionals like Public Health Inspectors, Psychologists and Social Workers.

For Further Information Contact:

Cathy Dickson, President, Health Sciences
306-361-5655

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