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Health Care Layoffs in the Far North Mean Reduced Public Services

Saskatoon (February 7, 2014) – The Mamawetan Churchill River Health Region recently laid off two specialized Health Educators, which will mean a significant reduction of services for the region’s more than twenty-three thousand residents, Health Sciences President Karen Wasylenko said.

“Admitting budget was the main factor in the decision, the health region laid off a Sexual Wellness Coordinator and a Smoking Cessation Coordinator. The health region now will offer no specialized assistance for these health care needs in the more than fifty communities and First Nations that it serves across the northeastern half of Northern Saskatchewan. The need for these services is stronger than ever, but the region has put budget before patient needs,” Wasylenko added.

“These specialized Health Educators provided a number of important community wellness programs. One example was the delivery of Health Fairs at community schools, where students, teachers and parents could receive information from health care professionals about diabetes, smoking cessation, dental health and nutrition among other things. These health fairs included blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol checks for members of the community. These are important community programs to educate and inform the public about how to improve or maintain their health, but now the specialists responsible for planning and delivering these and other services are gone,” Wasylenko noted.

“The health region claims these specialized services can be covered by other staff, but these professionals already have their own long waiting lists for services. These layoffs will only add to the backlog. When are Saskatchewan health regions going to start putting patients first?” Wasylenko asked.

“Public confidence in health region administrators is low, and decisions like this in the Mamawetan Churchill River Health Region show why. The recent Health Sciences Provincial Survey found only 33.5% of Saskatchewan residents gave their local health region a high rating (rating of 8-10 on ten- point scale) for their “delivery of health care services”. Even fewer survey respondents, 21.1%, expressed high confidence (rating of 8-10) that their local health region is “improving the delivery of health care services”. In short, Saskatchewan people do not have high levels of confidence in the performance and future direction of their local health region,” Wasylenko said.

“These survey results show that Saskatchewan health regions need to be made more accountable to the public for the services they provide, and more transparent with health care professionals and the public, when making staffing and budget decisions that impact patient safety and service levels,” Wasylenko concluded.

For Further Information Contact:

Kate Robinson (Communications)
Health Sciences Association of Saskatchewan
306-221-6316

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