Health Sciences Association of Saskatchewan


Health Regions Playing Political Games with Job Postings

Prince Albert (June 7, 2011) – Since Saskatchewan’s three-thousand specialized health care professionals began strike action last month, to focus public attention on chronic under-staffing and non-competitive wages and benefits for their professions, health regions have been playing political games with job postings in an attempt to cover up these serious problems, Health Sciences President Cathy Dickson charged.

“Our strike action has exposed the fact that health regions have been balancing their budgets on the backs of patients and specialized health care professionals, by refusing to post vacant positions for months on end. This practice, known as ‘vacancy management’ has created long waiting lists for some health care services, and stretched the limits of patient safety for others,” Dickson said.

“Since strike action began last month, health regions have posted ninety-four Health Sciences positions in twelve different health regions in an attempt to hide their ‘vacancy management’. This political job posting frenzy confirms that health regions have been sitting on vacancies for months, and it took public exposure to finally embarrass them into action,” Dickson said.

“We suspect these political games will also expose the other major problem that prompted our strike action – non-competitive wages and benefits. It will be interesting to track how quickly health regions actually fill these new job postings, because recruitment and retention problems are already apparent in many health regions. A few examples:

  • Sun Country Health Region has a full-time Occupational Therapist position in Estevan, and a full-time Physical Therapist position in Weyburn, which have gone unfilled since last October
  • Prairie North Health Region has a full-time Occupational Therapist position posted in February of 2010 for Lloydminster, which remains unfilled
  • Kelsey Trail Health Region has been looking for a full-time Physical Therapist for Nipawin since March 2010, and a full-time Physical Therapist for Melfort since last December
  • Prince Albert Parkland Health Region has been trying to fill a full-time Psychologist position since April of 2009, and a temporary Occupational Therapist position since July 2009. Two positions for temporary Physical Therapists have been posted and unfilled since June 2010
  • Heartland Health Region has been looking unsuccessfully for part-time Emergency Service workers since the summer of 2010, and has been looking for Casual Emergency Services workers for seven different communities since last October
  • Saskatoon Health Region has been unable to fill positions for a Clinical Perfusionist and two Psychologists, even though these positions were posted in 2010. The region has also been unable to fill a Psychologist position for its Early Childhood program since 2009
  • Sunrise Health Region posted for a full-time Occupational Therapist in November 2010 and has been looking for a full-time Physical Therapist for Kamsack since 2009. This health region has also been unable to fill positions in Yorkton’s hospital pharmacy for more than a year, and all four psychologist positions in their mental health program sit vacant

“These unfilled vacancies speak volumes about the non-competitive wages and benefits offered to specialized health care professionals in Saskatchewan,” Dickson said.

“It’s important to note that less than half of the jobs posted recently are for full-time positions. The majority are for part-time, temporary and casual positions. Too many of these postings look like an attempt by the employer to pump up the total number of jobs posted, knowing full well that there is little hope anyone will apply. For example, one position posted in the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region is for a part-time Pharmacist that offers the equivalent of one, eight-hour shift per week in Grenfell,” Dickson noted.

“These developments show why we can’t trust health care employers to apply professional standards of care for our services, without a formal system to make their staffing decisions public, transparent and fully accountable. The Wall government accepted the need for professional standards with respect to registered nurses. Other health care professions deserve no less, because patient safety is at stake,” Dickson concluded.

Health Sciences represents more than three-thousand specialized health care professionals from more than thirty health care professions. 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 Association of Saskatchewan

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