At the start of the Saskatoon Health Region's fiscal year in April, it projected a $34 million deficit. Now, half way through the fiscal period, it is maintaining a $200,000 surplus.

The Region credits the savings to new scheduling strategies that target its biggest expense: employee wages.

'It is not acceptable for us to spend more than what we have. We are in a large, accumulated deficit situation,' - Nilesh Kavia

Nilesh Kavia is the Region's Vice President of Finance and Corporate Affairs.

"Not all overtime is avoidable, but...if we are able to schedule staff for predicted absences then we're able to schedule them at regular time, which really avoids a lot of overtime," Kavia said.

The Region said cutting back on employee compensation costs also involves reviewing vacant positions to determine their worthiness before they are re-posted and making sure they have the appropriate staff scheduled for a specific shift's demand.

The Region's strategic cuts to employee compensation is all part of its effort to get back into the black.

"It is not acceptable for us to spend more than what we have. We are in a large, accumulated deficit situation," Kavia said.

The Saskatoon Health Region expects to have a balanced budget by the end of their fiscal year. However, they are still struggling to find long term care for over one hundred patients who need it.