SASKATOON –The head office for Saskatchewan’s new single provincial health authority is to be in Saskatoon.
The government says a number of locations were considered, but Saskatoon was chosen because it is centrally located.
It also says the city is close to the College of Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan and will be home to the new children’s hospital when it is completed.
The Saskatchewan Party announced in January that it was merging the province’s 12 health regions into one provincial health authority by the fall.
The move has prompted an angry response from health-care unions worried about potential job losses and patient care.
The government says management and support services will continue to be located in Regina, Prince Albert, Moose Jaw and other major communities.
Moose Jaw Mayor Fraser Tolmie says he’s happy with at least that.
“This new executive leadership model will establish senior management positions here in Moose Jaw, and that is something I am happy for,” he says. “Going on in the future, this announcement will not stop me from pursuing other opportunities from the province that may present themselves for our city.”
The name of the new provincial organization will be the Saskatchewan Health Authority.
Health Minister Jim Reiter has said in the past that a single health authority will mean better co-ordination of services and give the government control over how much officials will be paid.
On Monday Reiter said the potential savings from the amalgamation are estimated in the range of $10 million to $20 million by 2018-19.
The health-care unions CUPE, SEIU-West and the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees’ Union have been working together to present a proposal to the government that would limit the impact on patients.
The proposal says efficiencies could be found by having all three unions at the same bargaining table and potentially reaching the same contract agreement.
Reiter said cost savings are a secondary consideration, even though they are significant.
“It’s about services. It’s about artificial boundaries not causing patient-care concerns,” he said. “We need to stop that.”
The savings reduce administration costs by five per cent, but Reiter says the authority’s board of directors will be assigned to further reduce those costs by 15 to 20 per cent within the next two years.
He did not know how many of the 1,000 current administrators in the 12 health regions could lose their jobs. But he added that 300 to 400 staff will make up the Saskatoon office and most of those positions will be filled from existing employees.