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Horizon Health Network CEO John McGarry says eliminating the six vice-president positions will save a significant amount of money. (Jacques Poitras/CBC)

The new CEO of the Horizon Health Network has taken a scalpel to the organization's executive office, cutting the number of vice-presidents to five from 11.

John McGarry says he wants to avoid cutting jobs, but sometimes, he may have no choice.

He needs to cut $3 million from Horizon's budget in the 2013-14 fiscal year, he told reporters during a conference call on Thursday.

Two of the VPs have been laid off with severance, while others have been moved into other jobs, McGarry said.

'Certainly I would always look first to non-human resources, but if I have to, we will look everywhere.'—John McGarry, Horizon Health Network CEO

He declined to say how much the VP changes will save.

"It's a significant amount of money, but it's just the beginning of where we need to find savings," he said.

"People, supplies, travel, all that goes with it. Certainly I would always look first to non-human resources, but if I have to, we will look everywhere."

McGarry also declined to say whether the VPs moved to into lower-ranking positions will still get the same pay they've been receiving.

"Eighty per cent of the health care budget is made up of people. So it's a difficult job, but I can never guarantee that we're going to continue to employ all the people that we have," he said.

"I would think that's probably the same in your organization. I don't think health should be any different."

Under the new structure, Jean Daigle will serve as vice-president of community, Gary Foley as vice-president of professional services, Geri Geldart as vice-president of clinical, and Dr. Édouard Hendriks as vice-president of medical, academic and research services.

Earlier this month, McGarry said some hospital emergency rooms could be reduced.

McGarry took over at the helm of Horizon, the province's largest health authority, on Feb. 1, replacing Don Peters.

Health Minister Ted Flemming appointed Rino Volpé as the new CEO of the Vitalité Health Network at the same time, replacing Joey Caissie.

McGarry and Volpé are also the co-presidents of the Office of Health Renewal, appointed last year to reduce costs in the health care system.

The office was set up to find ways to reduce the cost of delivering health care closer to the national average by 2016-17.