Saturday, March 27, 2010

Saskatoon Health Region faces $24 million shortfall in 2010-11 budget

Saskatoon Health Region faces $24 million shortfall in 2010-11 budgetThe Government of Saskatchewan delivered the 2010-2011 provincial budget on March 24, 2010. The result is a $24 million shortfall for Saskatoon Health Region. To explain the impact of the budget shortfall, Health Region President and CEO Maura Davies sent the following message to physicians, staff and volunteers:

March 24, 2010

The Government of Saskatchewan delivered the 2010-2011 provincial budget on March 24, 2010. The total health budget increase of 3.1 per cent reflects the operational needs and commitments of the current government during a period of fiscal restraint. While some of you may have already received details of this budget, I would like to share with you a few of the highlights as they relate to Saskatoon Health Region.

The provincial government provided regional health authorities with an increase in funding of approximately 5 per cent. The increase will partially cover inflation related to increased labour costs, drug costs, etc. as well as targeted investments related to surgical wait lists and selected programs.

What does this mean for us in Saskatoon Health Region? Our share, although welcome, is less than what the Region requires to maintain our current services as they are currently structured and delivered. It means that, despite an increase of approximately 6.2 per cent to our Region’s funding, we will experience a shortfall of approximately $24 million for the 2010-2011 fiscal year. This shortfall is made up of:

* Reduction of $10M in the 2010-11 budget allocation related to region-specific targets for reduction in sick time, WCB time lost claims and overtime, shared services and other operational efficiencies; and

* 2009-10 deficit of $14M. Operating costs will need to be reduced by this amount to avoid these cost overruns in 2010/11.

The Ministry is providing the funding required to expand the chronic kidney disease program and operating the new Irene and Leslie Dubé Centre for Mental Health.

As we plan our 2010-11 budget, we also need to find ways to make strategic investments to meet the needs of our communities and improve the quality, safety and efficiency of our care. These include investments in patient safety, chronic disease management, electronic health record and other areas. If we want to make these investments, we will need to make internal reallocations to reflect Regional priorities.

Another significant issue for us is the issue of capital funding. We will continue to work with the Ministry to confirm our 2010-11 capital funding allocation. In addition, during 2010-11, we will draw upon previous government funding to complete prior approved infrastructure improvements. Government remains committed to the Children’s Hospital of Saskatchewan and planning will continue on this project.

Despite the cuts and efficiencies that we have already implemented, this budget will require all of us to dig a bit deeper and focus on even more creative ways to be efficient. It will not be business as usual. The budget challenges us to do things differently and to work more collaboratively with other regions. It is a call for shared leadership in ensuring we provide good value for money and invest in care, services and strategic initiatives that put patients first.

Our response to this budget will challenge us all. But it is also an opportunity. We are stewards of more than $850 million of tax payers’ money. We are also entrusted to use the abundance of talent and experience possessed by our 12,000 staff, 850 physicians, and thousands of volunteers in ways that lead to better care, a more positive patient experience and a better workplace.

Recently, Saskatoon Health Region developed a promise statement. Our promise is: Every moment is an opportunity to create a positive experience in the way we treat and care for people, in how we work and interact with each other, and in how we deliver quality service. We promise to seize every opportunity.

Responding to this budget is an opportunity we must seize. Over the next few weeks we will finalize our budget plans and submit them to the Saskatoon Regional Health Authority and the Ministry of Health for approval. We have already started to make changes to streamline our operations and reduce operating costs. I am confident that, in the weeks and months ahead, our core values of stewardship and collaboration will help us find efficiencies and reduce operating costs, while working together to put patients first.

You can find out more about the provincial government’s 2010-2011 budget by visiting As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions.

Maura Davies,
President and CEO
Saskatoon Health Region

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