Saskatoon (September 27, 2010) – The more than three-thousand specialized health care professionals who are members of the Health Sciences Association of Saskatchewan are frustrated and concerned that they have been without a contract for more than a year, Acting President Cathy Dickson told a news conference.
“Patients are suffering and being put at risk by inadequate staffing levels for many of our professions, and Saskatchewan’s inability to attract more of these specialized professionals. As a result, people are not getting the health services they need. Witness the lack of some services, and long waiting lists for others. If these problems are not dealt with soon, things will only get worse,” Dickson added.
“Two years ago, the Government of Saskatchewan agreed to an unprecedented health care contract with registered nurses. It defended that contract on the grounds of recruitment and retention issues, and the need to keep Saskatchewan competitive with other provinces, in the search for more nurses. The same arguments apply to the specialized health care professionals in Health Sciences,” Dickson said.
Dickson argued recruitment and retention has become more difficult as other provinces, especially Alberta, have moved ahead of the wages and benefits offered in Saskatchewan. She listed a number of examples of Alberta health care professionals who are receiving anywhere from 17% to 34% more than professionals filling equivalent positions in Saskatchewan.
“Saskatchewan cannot hope to compete for these specialized health care professionals unless that gap is narrowed,” Dickson told the news conference.
Dickson also noted that prior to the new registered nurses’ contract two years ago the average wage rate for Health Sciences professions was about 2.9% below the wage rate for a registered nurse in Saskatchewan. Today that wage gap is 29% or tenfold what it was just two years ago.
“If the Government, through SAHO, is serious about the recruitment and retention of our specialized health care professions, then this gap too will have to be narrowed by a wages and benefits offer that approaches what was approved for nurses two years ago,” Dickson stated.
“We go back into health care negotiations with SAHO this week. We will be making specific contract requests to help reduce waiting lists for our critical health care services, improve the recruitment and retention of our specialized health care professionals, and move our specialized professionals closer to the wages and benefits already earned by others, like registered nurses,” Dickson added.
“For more than a year, health care employers have refused to even discuss many of the ideas we have put forward to improve the efficiency of the health care services we deliver to our patients. At the same time, health care employers have proposed a series of contract concessions that will only make waiting lists longer, and recruitment and retention more difficult,” Dickson concluded.
Health Sciences is the union which represents more than three-thousand specialized health care professionals from more than thirty licensed 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, Acting President