Prince Albert (April 3, 2011) – The Health Sciences Association of Saskatchewan, the union which represents more than three-thousand specialized health care professionals, will launch television advertisements across the province this week questioning the provincial government’s double standard with respect to health care negotiations, President Cathy Dickson announced.
“The provincial government is our main target, because it has allowed health care employers to chronically under-staff our professions, and has encouraged employers to stand by an unacceptable contract offer that will see Saskatchewan continue to trail our main competitors for the recruitment and retention of health care professionals. It is time to speak out about the government’s harmful double standard approach to health care,” Dickson said.
“The ads focus on three groups: EMS workers, Respiratory Therapists and Occupational Therapists, and compares how the government has allowed under-staffing and non-competitive wages for these professionals, while approving huge wage increases and generous benefits for health care managers like Health Region CEOs,” Dickson said.
“The government’s own Emergency Medical Services Review in 2009, showed that seven times a day in Rural Saskatchewan and ten times a day in our cities; ambulances fail to reach patients within the national standard for safe response times (less than 30 minutes in rural areas and less than 9 minutes in urban areas). In spite of these frightening facts, the government has done nothing to increase the number of EMS workers or to improve our ability to recruit them from elsewhere. In fact, Saskatchewan’s EMS workers are the lowest paid in Western Canada, and under the government’s current offer they would continue to be the lowest paid in Western Canada! How will that improve services for Saskatchewan families or the recruitment and retention of these emergency workers?” Dickson asked.
“Occupational Therapists provide critical health services to everyone from autistic children to stroke and accident victims. The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) confirms that Saskatchewan has 25 Occupational Therapists per 100,000 people, the lowest rate in Canada. The government has done nothing to increase the number of Occupational Therapists, whose pay in this province is below the Western Canadian average,” Dickson noted.
“Respiratory Therapists help critically ill patients breathe when they can’t on their own. CIHI confirms that Saskatchewan has only 12 Respiratory Therapists per 100,000 population, the lowest rate in Canada. The government has done nothing to properly staff these critical professionals, and their wages in Saskatchewan are below the Western Canadian average,” Dickson said.
“While these and other professionals who directly serve Saskatchewan families have been under-staffed and refused competitive wages and benefits, the government recently approved wage increases of up to 37% for 25-hundred health care managers including more than $414,000 a year in salary and cash bonuses for Health Region CEOs. What a double standard! It’s not a question of money, it has become a question of the government’s priorities,” 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