REGINA — The Saskatchewan government has introduced legislation to consolidate the province's 12 health regions into a single provincial health authority.
Health Minister Jim Reiter says the move, which was announced in January, will mean better co-ordination of health services across the province and gives the government control over how much officials in the new authority will be paid.
The proposed legislation comes as unions representing thousands of licensed practical nurses and diagnostic technicians in Saskatchewan expressed angst over the consolidation.
CUPE, SEIU-West and the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees' Union said people are worried about job losses and patient care when the merger happens this fall.
The health care provider unions said they've been working together to present a proposal to government that would limit the impact on patients.
The proposal says efficiencies could be found by having all three unions at the same bargaining table and likely reaching the same contract agreement.
Union leaders said this proposal is not unique in Canada — similar bargaining structures have been agreed upon in British Columbia and Nova Scotia. Contracts for CUPE, SEIU-West and SGEU all expire at the end of March.
"We believe that going this route will minimize disruptions in service and ease anxiety that is being felt by health care providers across the province," Barbara Cape, president of SEIU-West, said Tuesday.
"We already do negotiate at a common bargaining table for many elements of our contracts."
The Canadian Press