Saskatoon

Reinvest in health care, and reverse Saskatoon cuts says union

The union representing more than half of the workers being laid off at the Saskatoon Health Region says the provincial government should be reinvesting in health care.

Union blames cuts on provincial government, not health region

Barbara Cape, president of the Service Employees International Union’s western Canada branch, is calling on the Saskatoon Health Region to reverse job cuts. (Peter Mills/CBC)

The union representing more than half of the workers being laid off at the Saskatoon Health Region says the provincial government should be reinvesting in health care.

Barbara Cape was a guest on CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning.

"I don't know how you provide health care in this province without paying for it," she said.

Cape is the president of the Service Employees International Union's (SEIU) western Canada branch, and is speaking out after the Saskatoon Health Region announced it is cutting 70 jobs to help balance the budget.

Health region struggling to balance books

The 2015-16 fiscal year ended with a $35.7-million deficit. Estimates from July have the region trying to fill a $30.8 million gap in the 2016-17 budget.

"We built our sustainability plan on the principles of not compromising patient care and doing everything we can to protect frontline services while delivering health care in the most efficient way possible," Dan Florizone, president and CEO of the health region said in the release.

The cuts are just one of many cost savings initiatives by health region.

Union blames province 

But Cape said the health region is not the villain here.

"This is the Ministry of Health carving out money from a health region that actually needs it, that actually needs to provide additional surgeries, that actually needs to provide additional therapies."

Cape is calling on the health region to reverse its decision to cut jobs, and for the provincial government to properly fund health care in Saskatchewan.  

'Yes, health care is absolutely a labour intensive sector, but that's the very nature of the health care system," she said.