Nova Scotia Health Authority to spend $1.82B in its first year
New budget is $300M more than originally forecast in the budget tabled 2 months ago
The first-ever budget by Nova Scotia's new provincial health authority has created confusion and consternation, because the figures cannot be reconciled with those in estimates tabled in the legislature just two months ago.
Maureen MacDonald, the interim leader of the New Democratic Party and the former Minister of Health and Wellness, wasn't impressed.
"I would call it a mess," MacDonald said Wednesday. "It's a bit of a dog's breakfast, but it's not a business plan."
Instead of the $1.5 billion that Health Minister Leo Glavine asked the House to endorse, the Nova Scotia Health Authority expects to spend $1.82 billion.
But the province won't have to come up with the $300-million difference. The authority will raise that money in parking fees, retail operations, room rates and other revenue-generating measures.
At first blush, it appeared some services had their budgets slashed, but the Nova Scotia Health Authority says that's not the case.
"At this point in time we don't have any cuts to front-line care planned," said Janet Knox, the CEO of the new health authority.
Plan to find $41.5M in savings
"What I am saying, though, is that services could be provided in different places. And what I've learned in the past is when you reorganize the service with a very strict focus on who is being served, you may be able to serve more people."
Knox said if a service is moved, the community affected will be informed first.
The Nova Scotia Health Authority has highlighted areas where it will look for savings in the next 12 months. All told, the plan is to find $41.5 million in savings.
Some of it — including $6.2 million in executive salaries — is already in the bank. The money comes from the salaries of senior executives no longer needed because of the merger of the province's nine district health authorities.
According to the 2015-2016 business plan, there are also savings to be had as a result of more bulk buying, and from a drop in the price of heating oil.
Officials are also banking on finding about $10.6 million in savings through "capacity management, service delivery, improved utilization and management structure leaning."
Getting people on board
Knox has told the 23,400 people who work for her that meeting budget targets won't be easy.
"It will be challenging to meet our targets — we know that," Knox wrote in a email to staff Wednesday. "We also know that we have efficiencies to gain by working together as one organization."
She ended with a message of support.
"There will continue to be a lot of uncertainty and change. I know this can be difficult. I am committed to supporting you and keeping you informed as we work through these changes," she said.