The head of the largest health authority in Newfoundland and Labrador says he's open to the idea of amalgamating the province's four regional health authorities.
But David Diamond says he's wary of the possibility of reducing health-care spending by 25 per cent.
An independent analysis on restructuring the heavily indebted provincial government made recommendations earlier this month as one way to help get the province's finances in order.
"It's obviously possible. At least three other provinces — Alberta, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan — have moved from a regional health authority system into a provincial health authority system," said Diamond, the president and CEO of Eastern Health, on Monday.
"I happened to be in Alberta at the time they made those changes, so I know it is possible. Those are difficult transitions but once you get to the other side it is a very valid model and certainly would allow the province to manage its health system in a very streamlined fashion," he added.
The Greene Report, titled The Big Reset, was commissioned by Liberal Premier Andrew Furey through his economic recovery team, led by Moya Greene with team members Richard Kostoff, Iris Petten, Gary Mooney, David Vardy, Brendan Brothers, Moya Cahill, Zita Cobb, Oral Dawe, Philip Earle and Chief Misel Joe.
Mary Shortall, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour, resigned from the team in January, calling it "window dressing" without collaboration or transparency.
The report, released May 6, lists the cuts and other measures the team feels are necessary for Newfoundland and Labrador, with a total debt of over $47 billion, to continue paying its civil servants and operating its hospitals while getting its finances back on even keel. .
'We will have to save money in the health system'
Diamond said he hasn't discussed anything yet with Health Minister John Haggie.
"I have no doubt that if we're going to be sustainable as a province there will need to be some savings found in the health-care system as there will need to be across all government through a variety of sectors so we're certainly prepared as Eastern Health to step up and do our part," he said.
"What is not as clear to me is whether the order of magnitude of what's in the Greene report is a number we can attain."
The report recommends a 25 per cent reduction in the budget of the four regional health authorities over the next six years. Eastern Health's budget accounts for 20 per cent of annual government spending, said Diamond.
Diamond said there are many ways to provide health services, an example learned through the COVID-19 pandemic under the increase of virtual care. But wouldn't say if a 25 per cent budget reduction was the right number.
"I think we've been able to accomplish things that not even we anticipated," he said.
"There are many ways of providing services, in different models. Some of which are more efficient and cheaper than what we're doing now. But, I can't say at this early stage whether 25 per cent is the number."
The Furey government is promising a series of public consultations before deciding whether to adopt the report's recommendations.