The health executive planning the merger of nine of Nova Scotia’s 10 district health authorities into one tried to reassure health workers on Wednesday that most of them will not be directly affected by the change.
Patrick Lee, president and CEO of Pictou County Health Authority, hosted a provincial webcast designed as a project update on the merger. He said the transition work will not affect front line care.
"There will continue to be 37 community health boards. There will be no change to foundations and auxiliary. Early retirement packages or incentives will not be offered,” said Lee.
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The health authorities will be consolidated into one provincial authority by April 1, 2015, with the IWK Health Centre remaining as a separate authority.
Lee said he still does not know how many jobs will disappear as part of the reorganization.
"We do not have the workforce adjustment plan developed because we don't know what the workforce adjustments are,” he said.
Health Minister Leo Glavine said he isn't worried the re-organization will lead to job losses.
"Attrition is going to be a wonderful friend and really a gift to that process. That will be the way in which many people, those positions will be able to be taken away," he said.
The location of the new provincial authority headquarters is still not known, although Glavine has Truro in mind.
"My preference is not to have it in Halifax, Dartmouth," said Glavine. "I mean I see Truro as a major hub and that could very well be one of the sites that we will look at for location. You know Truro is a site that I personally like."
Benefits still years out
Progressive Conservative MLA and one-time health minister Chris d'Entremont said officials should know by now how much the province will be saving.
"They're supposed to be coming in the fall to tell us what's going to be happening here and to start pushing forward legislation. You would think that they would have more answers and they don't,” he said.
The province said there will be costs incurred in the transition year and for a few years after the merger, relating to the restructuring. These costs will include consultation, IT services and staffing.
'I see the work that we're doing as laying down the platform for about a 10-year transformation of health' - Health Minister Leo Glavine
Lee said he still does not know how much the merger will save the province.
"It's highly unlikely, in fact very unlikely there will be first-year savings," said Lee. "Your benefits realization is in a couple of years out."
Glavine said everything is on track.
"I see the work that we're doing as laying down the platform for about a 10-year transformation of health," he said.
Glavine said he'll have a clearer picture of what the new system will begin to look like by the end of the summer when the merger will be spelled out in legislation.