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Staffing of Respiratory Therapists Reaching Crisis Levels

Regina (May 3, 2012) – Saskatchewan health regions have failed to adequately staff respiratory therapist positions, and the number of vacancies for these specialized health care professionals is reaching crisis levels, Health Sciences Association of Saskatchewan President Karen Wasylenko told a Regina news conference.

“In the Saskatoon Health Region, there has been a 27% turnover rate among respiratory therapists in the past year alone, with thirteen new hires. Still the health region has five job vacancies for respiratory therapists that it cannot fill, meaning more than 11% of respiratory therapist positions are vacant. The Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region has seen a 25% turnover rate among its respiratory therapists in the past year, with eleven new hires. In the past two months, the region has advertised nine vacancies for respiratory therapists, two casual and seven full-time positions. This represented a 20% vacancy rate among respiratory therapists in the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region,” Wasylenko said.

“The turnover and vacancy problem is not limited to our largest cities. The Prairie North Health Region is currently advertising for a full-time respiratory therapist, while the Sunrise Health Region has a casual and a temporary position both vacant, leaving the region with only one full- time respiratory therapist,” Wasylenko said.

“Saskatchewan patients are being put at risk by the inability of health regions to adequately staff respiratory therapist positions. For example, Pediatric and Neonatal Transport to Saskatoon’s Royal University Hospital, and Regina’s General Hospital, has been threatened with cancellation in recent weeks, because there were no respiratory therapists to cover certain shifts. The Pediatric and Neonatal Transport Team helps to stabilize and transport children in medical emergencies using road or air ambulance,” Wasylenko added.

“Many experienced respiratory therapists have left Saskatchewan in recent months for Alberta, where working conditions are better due to more adequate staffing levels, and where wages this year are 21% higher. Competition from Alberta will only increase later this year, when a new $1.3 Billion hospital opens in Calgary, with plans to hire more than twenty-four hundred full-time staff, including more than eighty respiratory therapists! If we can’t compete with Alberta now, how do Saskatchewan health regions expect the situation to improve?” Wasylenko asked.

Health Sciences is the union, which 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 and Social Workers.

For Further Information Contact:

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

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