Horizon Health sheds 6 jobs

Horizon Health Network is cutting six staff members as the corporation pushes forward in its internal cost-cutting initiative.

CUPE Local 1252 president fears more job cuts

Horizon Health Network is cutting six staff members as the corporation pushes forward in its internal cost-cutting initiative.

Health Minister Madeleine Dube had informed Horizon Health Network staff in Miramichi that their jobs were safe. (CBC)
Health Minister Madeleine Dubé sent a memo last week to employees in the Miramichi office of Horizon Health Network, the city where the health authority is located, saying positions in that region would be safe.

But the health minister’s assurance did not cover other hospitals in Fredericton, Moncton and Saint John.

Two layoff notices were handed out in the health records unit at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital in Fredericton, and two notices were handed out at the Moncton Hospital

An additional two non-unionized workers in the system have been told their jobs will be cut.

Norma Robinson, the president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 1252, said she is not confident this is the last of the layoff notices.

"All they told us is they are doing efficiency studies. It comes down to the board of management, which is government, to make these decisions," Robinson said.

Norma Robinson, the president of CUPE Local 1252, said she fears more cuts are looming in the health sector. (CBC)
"We've asked as information becomes available to provide us with it but we don't have any information at this time."

Board of management is a sub-committee of the provincial cabinet, which oversees financial issues.

Earlier this summer, union officials received a general layoff notice for employees in Horizon Health, the largest of the province's two health authorities.

The province’s health minister has suggested that redeployments can be absorbed by the usual attrition, which occurs inside the healthcare system.

A health official has estimated about 800 to 1,000 Horizon Health Network workers retire or take employment elsewhere each year.

While the initial number of job reductions may seem small, the union leader said there will be an impact on patient care.

"In my opinion, anything you reduce — any service, any department, any area — is going to have an impact on patient care," Robinson said.

"It doesn't matter if it's someone compiling reports to someone providing food, it's going to affect the level of care or the way that patient receives information."

The Progressive Conservative government is forecasting a $450-million deficit in 2011-12 and has ordered every department to find internal savings.

The Department of Health did not receive a budget cut in Finance Minister Blaine Higgs’s March budget but it was asked to operate with a smaller increase in funds.