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Wednesday, 01 June 2011 14:49

Cypress Health Region balances budget after hiring more staff

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By Chris Jaster — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Cypress Health Region has balanced its 2011-12 budget and managed to create more front-line workers in the process.


At its monthly meeting May 26, the Cypress Regional Health Authority voted in favour of the balanced budget that will create 5.07 full-time equivalent positions and 10.65 temporary staffing additions.

The permanent positions added will be an information technology analyst (0.67 FTE), a public health inspectors (one FTE), a computed topography and medical radiologic technology specialist (1.21 FTE), a pharmacy technician (1.19 FTE) and an occupational health and safety co-ordinator (one FTE). The region also will have a permanent senior medical officer on contract and support positions for directors that will be determined later.

The budget also has 8.86 full-time equivalent positions for surgical initiative funding for surgery, home care and rehab that will last until March 31, 2012. It also has created an accreditation and patient safety co-ordinator (0.54 FTE) until March 31, 2012, as well as staff for Eastend’s EMS pilot program and to deal with the extra workload from the releasing time to care program.

Although the region received $8.5 million more from the provincial government this year, the funding for these positions comes from the reorganization of the region’s management team. Four management positions were cut in that process, creating the funding for all the other front-line jobs.

The increased funding from the government is allocated to pay for wage increases through collective bargaining.

Beth Vachon, the region’s chief executive officer, hopes the extra positions will relieve the pressure of some unions that want more front-line staff. She realizes, however, there is a balancing act with front-line staff and management.

“Our staff often tell us they want more access to their supervisors and have those interactions,” she said. “It's a bit of a balance, but we have invested in a number of temporary and permanent positions, and that can only be good for service delivery.”

The region’s 2011-12 budget has $121.2 million in expenditures. Approximately 81 per cent of the spending will be spent on compensating employees.

Approximately 41 per cent of the expenditures are expected to take place in acute care with 37 per cent in supportive care and 18 per cent in community care. That is one area Vachon would like to see change.

She said the region’s goal is to eventually spend more on community care to prevent people from getting ill to decrease the spending in acute care. It will take a while to implement the changes needed to see to modify to decrease the acute care spending.

“It doesn't necessary mean we won't have acute care services; we will always have acute care services,” said Vachon. “It really is about preventing the development of chronic diseases, so looking at things like weight management, good exercise programs, proper nutrition, eating and following the Canada Food Guide. All those things as a health system we can encourage, but we don't directly influence. The only direct influence we have is the treatment we provide.

“One of the things we work toward is providing some of those services within community health and having our staff in facilities work to teachable moments. We (have to take) advantage of those opportunities so we're teaching and discussing and helping people to make choices and there are other things that can happen in community development and creating a community where it's easy to make healthy choices.”

As happy as Vachon and the region’s executive is to have a balanced budget, they know it would be nice to have a surplus to work on some capital projects.

Vachon said the region would not, however, avoid filling positions just to get a surplus and they would be happy with a zero balance at the end of the year.

“There are a number of reasons for a surplus, but we don't ever want to do that on the backs of clients that we serve on service provision,” she said. “Our goal is a balanced budget to provide services.”

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