Time limit placed on privatization of surgeries and diagnostic tests in Regina

An arbitrator has ruled that the Regina Health Region cannot contract-out surgeries and diagnostic tests past 2013.  As reported earlier, the Saskatchewan government has joined the privatization craze, encouraging health regions in Saskatoon and Regina to contract out surgeries and diagnostic tests. 

At the expedited arbitration hearing, CUPE and its expert witnesses – Dr. Michael Rachlis and Dr. Robert Evans – showed the employer’s costing methodology was flawed.

Although the arbitrator accepted the employer’s assertion it had to contract-out surgeries and diagnostic tests to meet the government’s wait time targets by 2013, the arbitrator agreed with CUPE that the work could be done more cost-effectively in the public sector. He also agreed there is "sufficient evidence" to show the health region could improve the capacity of the public system to deal with wait times. Arbitrator Daniel Ish wrote:

Even if additional capital expenditures have to be made, in the long term there is little doubt that the internal costs of carrying out both surgical and CT procedures would be less than the costs associated with the provision of those services by a third party if the costs are similar to those contained in the OMNI contract and the proposed CT contracts as reflected in the vendor responses. (For the full award see here.) 

CUPE's Suzanne Posyniak concludes:  "We’re pleased the arbitrator has restricted the use of profit-making clinics in the health region." (For more, see here.)

Saskatchewan Health Minister Don McMorris was not giving much ground, refusing to speculate about what might happen beyond the 2013 deadline. ``We'll have to look at that. I hope that we've reduced the wait times down to our target."

The arbitrator's decision came the same day that McMorris signed an agreement that allows the Saskatoon Health Region to book patients for selected orthopedic procedures at Saskatoon Surgicentre Inc., another private facility.



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