Province releases part of long-awaited KPMG health-care report

Consolidate functions of the province's five health authorities, fold some health organizations such as CancerCare Manitoba into larger entities, and cut funding for some services such as outpatient physiotherapy and occupational therapy altogether, says a major study of the province's health-care system.

Released section includes changes implemented and underway; more to be made public in May

Manitoba Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen announced the province has released part of of the KPMG report that has guided many of its health care changes over the past year. (Gary Solilak/CBC)

Consolidate functions of the province's five health authorities, fold some health organizations such as CancerCare Manitoba into larger entities, and cut funding for some services such as outpatient physiotherapy and occupational therapy altogether, says a major study of the province's health-care system.

The provincial government on Monday released part of the report Health System Sustainability and Innovation Review done by consulting firm KPMG LLP.

The company was hired to look for efficiencies in Manitoba's health-care system and the report has guided many of the recent changes to health care in the province.

The report details three options for streamlining the regional health authorities, including folding them all into a single provincial health service organization.

Earlier this year, the province took a step in that direction with the creation of Shared Health Services Manitoba to take on some of the common functions performed by the health authorities, such as ambulance services and diagnostic imaging.

Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen said the creation of Shared Health Services Manitoba isn't a precursor to a single provincial health authority, although he acknowledged it makes such a move easier in the future.

"No, it is not our immediate intention to go that way," Goertzen said. "We are undergoing a lot of different reforms in the health-care system. Some say too many, some say too few, some say too fast, some say too slow, too hot, too cold — it's the three bears."

Other provinces have varying degrees of integration among their health-care organizations, the health minister said.

There is an excessive degree of bureaucracy within Manitoba's health system and the reforms aim to reduce that, he said.

The KPMG report estimates the consolidation of services and reduction and elimination of overlapping health authorities and boards could save $8 million or more over the next few years.

Large chunks of the study released Monday were blacked out. The government has refused to release another part of the study until next May.

In a statement announcing the release of part of the KPMG report, Goertzen said releasing the full report would create confusion about which recommendations would be implemented.

NDP Leader Wab Kinew criticized the provincial government for not making the full report public.

"If they wanted to be transparent, they should tell us: what are you actually implementing from this report?" Kinew said.

"In the absence of that, it just leaves a lot of uncertainty for Manitobans and given all the other cuts that have happened in health care, I think Manitobans can be forgiven for assuming the worst about this government's plans for the future."

Goertzen said the province is still reviewing the recommendations from a number of health reviews, including a report by Nova Scotia doctor-turned-consultant David Peachey and the Wait Times Task Force Report.

With files from Sean Kavanagh