Provincial Budget Update

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The budget and uncertainty discussed

29-Mar-2017

The release of the provincial budget is always a day of uncertainty for administrators and health systems. Though the budget and transition to a single health authority are not directly linked, it is hard not to see them in the same light

Below you will see the link to this week’s Transition Team update. I would normally reflect on how the work in RQHR is impacting and supporting the work of the transition team; however, instead I’d like to focus on the impact that the budget will have on RQHR.

As one might expect, the budget reflects the financial realities of the province and as one of the largest regional health authorities, we are impacted by these realities. Overall, our budget has increased by 1.8 per cent. The majority of this funding is to cover increased costs related to negotiated collective bargaining contracts. There is also some money for pressures on our various programs and services. On a broad basis, this is not substantively different from recent years.

However, there were some tough decisions included in the budget. The province announced that some programs offered by the health system, including here in RQHR, would be eliminated; though there are measures in place to address the impact that this will have on individuals with lower incomes. The programs include podiatry, pastoral care, travel immunization clinic, parent mentoring program and the hearing aid clinic. Leaders in our system have already met with the affected staff who were available on short notice to inform them of this decision. The respective unions have also been notified of these changes. There remain outstanding questions on issues such as timing and we will be working with the affected individuals, their unions and the Ministry of Health to work out these details and to minimize the impact as much as possible.

We also learned today that eHealth will deliver IT services for the health system. We had already been working with our colleagues at eHealth and across the health system, under the leadership of eHealth, to improve the management and delivery of IT services. A number of questions remain related to this decision. Again, we will work with our colleagues to get answers to these questions and to work together to ensure a successful implementation of this decision.

The budget did not provide any further details on how the 3.5 per cent reduction in compensation will occur across the health system. The budget document notes that the process will continue as initially announced with the Government working with the unions and out of scope staff to determine the best approach to achieve this reduction. Our funding has not been reduced by the impact of this decision; however, it will be reduced as the steps necessary to achieve these reductions are implemented. The progress towards this goal will be regularly monitored.

As you can see, there are still many details to be worked out. However, we need to acknowledge that some of our colleagues have received difficult news earlier today. We are committed to assisting them during the coming weeks and months to minimize the impact. Nothing that we do will fully address the loss they will feel as a result of this provincial decision. They were committed to providing high quality, safe care to our patients, clients, residents and their families. The decisions that were made were not a reflection of the quality of their work.

The news release regarding Saskatchewan’s budget with links to health can be found here.

Providing services within available resources and managing the demands of an increasing population base will continue to be a challenge for us in the coming year. However, we did see provincial investment in some key areas of our system that can help us to see through this challenge and find opportunity. The work in Primary Health Care is an excellent example, as this area continues to support connected care in the community that is patient-centred and team delivered.

Provincial Transition Team Update

The Transition Team has focused their work of late on achieving better physician engagement. Among other things, they attended a session last week hosted by the Saskatchewan Medical Association to discuss relationships, compensation, best practices and data in clinical decision-making.

Please click here for more information in this week’s Transition Team update.

Celebrating Our Success

As I mentioned above, Primary Health Care continues to build on its success; success that was noted in the Advisory Panel report, as well. To use an example from RQHR, Home Care is spending 16 per cent less on supplies (a projected $585,051 in 2016-17 compared to $695,591 in 2013-14) all while providing more hours of service and caring for more clients, in part, because of the implementation of a new inventory management system. The system includes a daily supply order board that allows supply depot staff to see at a glance whether supplies need to be ordered, have been ordered or are on back order and an electronic supply order form that’s part of a client’s electronic medical record. Keeping the order form with the record allows nurses to see whether care supplies have been ordered or more are required. Staff no longer wastes supplies.

You can read more about Home Care’s success in this week’s edition of eLink.

Feedback and Questions

Please continue to watch for weekly Transformation Talk messages from me, aligned with updates I receive from the Transition Team. They will also appear regularly in eLink.

I would like to thank those who have sent in your feedback. It is always welcome, both on these messages and on the transformation itself. Please continue to send your comments and questions to communications@rqhealth.ca.

Keith Dewar, President and CEO