Thursday, 08 June 2017 09:16

Cypress Health uses surplus funds to balance the 2017/18 budget

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Cypress Health Region Interim CEO and Chief Financial Officer Larry Allsen presented the 2017/18 budget at a board meeting, May 31. Cypress Health Region Interim CEO and Chief Financial Officer Larry Allsen presented the 2017/18 budget at a board meeting, May 31. Matthew Liebenberg

The final budget of the Cypress Health Region before the transition to a single provincial health authority will be balanced, but the health region will use almost its entire unrestricted surplus to find $9.2 million in efficiencies during the 2017/18 fiscal year.

The health region’s operating and capital budgets were approved at a regular meeting of the Cypress Regional Health Authority board, May 31.
The health region’s total operating budget will be $144.1 million. Cypress Health received no increase in base funding from the provincial government for the 2017/18 budget year compared to the previous year. In addition the Ministry of Health indicated the health region will have to find $9,239,000 in budget efficiencies.
“It wasn’t fun, but we managed to scrape it all together,” Cypress Health Region Interim CEO and Chief Financial Officer Larry Allsen said after the meeting. “We won’t be in as good a financial shape, but as we roll into the big provincial health authority at the end of the year, our finances and our budget will be balanced going in. So that’s good for the provincial health authority to have on their plate when they get our information.”
Cypress Health used various initiatives to balance the budget. The main one was to use $5,180,000 from the unrestricted surplus. The funds in the unrestricted surplus increased noticeably in recent years due to many staff vacancies in the health region.
“We’ve asked a lot out of our employees in the last four years,” he said. “When you’re out in a facility working by yourself because your counterpart is sick, (and) we can’t fill the other position. People are going above and beyond and that’s what results in these big surpluses.”
The unrestricted surplus made a real difference to balance the 2017/18 budget, but it means there only remains $277,295 for any immediate capital needs.
“It isn’t a lot, I got to say, but we will have to address those as they come, work with the ministry and government if something large happens,” he mentioned. “There is going to be some conversations as to how we are to meet those demands or those pieces of equipment that fail.”
The health region also used $1,620,000 from the capital reserve to balance the budget and it will save $1,644,000 through operating efficiencies.
“We have some small efficiencies, like we’re not doing some IT refresh,” he said. “Some laundry efficiencies that we’re doing out at The Meadows will save us some money.”
Cypress Health benefitted from some initiatives that were announced in the recent provincial budget. An amount of $795,000 from an increase in long-term care fees and some program reductions will be used to balance the health region’s budget.
The health region will spend 81 per cent or $116.6 million of its 2017/18 operating budget on staff compensation. Compared to the 2016/17 budget, the health region will actually spend an additional $1,112,000 on compensation during the 2017/18 fiscal year.
The health region’s capital budget for 2017/18 will be $17.8 million. The largest portion ($14.5 million) will be used for new facility construction projects. This includes the continuation of the Leader capital project, the finalization of the Maple Creek project, and ongoing expenses for The Meadows long-term care facility in Swift Current. The remaining capital budget will be used for equipment ($2.3 million), minor renovations ($756,000) and mortgage payment ($148,000).

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Matthew Liebenberg


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