Former Nunavut minister opposes splitting Health Dept.

MLA Tagak Curley says hiring another deputy minister and splitting health and social services won't save money or cut costs.

MLA says hiring another deputy minister won’t cut costs, improve services

A former cabinet minister said the Nunavut government’s plans to restructure by splitting the health department won’t save money.

This week the government laid out details of a major plan to restructure several departments, including the creation of a new Department of Family Services and getting rid of the Department of Human Resources.

The proposal to split social services and health into two separate departments caused Tagak Curley, the MLA for Rankin Inlet North, to resign from cabinet last fall. 

Tagak Curley, the MLA for Rankin Inlet North, said health care and social services should stay together to ensure fast service, continuity. (CBC)

Thursday he said the government might not save any money through this restructuring.

"To have more deputy ministers hired is not cheaper than having more assistant deputy ministers to improve services. So there's continuity with services. I think there will be delayed impact with this new approach," he said.

Curley said the department didn't need to be restructured to improve services. He believes Health and Social Services should stay together to deliver fast and effective help, especially when it comes to treating mental health.

The new Department of Family Services would bring together social services, income support, and other programs that deal with poverty and homelessness.

The proposed changes also eliminate the Department of Human Resources and shift some of its duties to Finance and the Executive.

The Nunavut government wants to fill government job vacancies faster by letting each department do its own hiring.

A 2010 Auditor General's report said it took the Nunavut government on average 318 days to fill a job.  

The head of Nunavut's public service union said eliminating Human Resources and filling jobs faster will help with employees' stress levels.

Doug Workman, the president of the Nunavut Employees Union, said there is a 35 per cent job vacancy rate in the government and that’s putting pressure on employees.

"We've got people doing more than one job and the expectation is that they'll do it within the 37-and-a-half-hour work week or 40-hour work week. That causes stress because people are working their tails off to get their job done, plus someone else's, and that's not uncommon in this government."

The proposed restructuring will take effect on April 1, 2013.