“It will be a challenging year for the entire province,” says Saskatoon Health Region’s President and CEO Dan Florizone, following the announcement of the 2015-16 provincial budget this afternoon in Regina. “This simply reinforces the importance of our innovative work now underway related to improving patient flow and achieving zero waits for patients.”

The provincial government has announced a 2.7 per cent increase in the provincial health budget that will translate into a $135 million overall increase. The government has directed funding for investments provincially in seniors’ care, major capital projects and reductions in emergency department wait times.

Saskatoon Health Region will find out the details of its allocation of the $135 million provincial increase in the weeks ahead. What is currently known is that the Region will receive a portion of funding within these specific areas:

  • $3.5 million to support seniors who wish to remain at home as long as possible by enhancing the Home First/Quick Response Program in Regina Qu’Appelle, Saskatoon, and Prince Albert Parkland Health Regions and expanding the program in the Prairie North Health Region to an additional site.
  • $2.8 million in capital renovations in Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region and Saskatoon Health Region to develop specialized units for individuals with dementia or challenging behaviours.
  • $2.0 million in individualized funding to provide increased choice and flexibility for home care clients to choose their care provider, providing more services and eliminating the current wait list for funding in the Five Hills, Prairie North, Regina Qu’Appelle and Saskatoon Health Regions.

The Ministry of Health’s budget continues to focus on building for the future, balanced with fiscal responsibility. It has indicated that the Regional Health Authorities must work together to ensure long-term sustainability of healthcare services by applying innovative approaches, being careful stewards of resources and pursuing system efficiencies.

Florizone acknowledges that the fiscal reality of the 2015-16 budget and our current deficit poses both a challenge and an opportunity.

“There is no doubt there are going to be some tough decisions ahead for the organization,” says Florizone. “Our job now is to understand the numbers, to go through the details of the budget allocation and to develop a plan to move forward. What is very clear is that this will make our 90 day cycles of breakthrough improvements critical.”

Florizone indicates that while part of the breakthrough improvements underway will help reduce overtime and sick time, the Region still needs innovative ideas and thinking for long-term sustainability and to deal with its projected deficit from the past year.

“I think it’s important to consider the work done to date in terms of where our opportunities lie,” says Florizone. “We will need to ask ourselves, ‘Does this program or service provide the maximum benefits to our patients, clients and residents the way it is currently delivered?’ Beyond taking the traditional approach of focusing on services we should reduce, we also need to question what areas we should enhance to avoid high costs. We seem to be all in when it comes to admitting patients to hospital, which we know is the most expensive form of care, but are we doing all we can to better support patients, residents and clients in our community?”

This year’s provincial budget also includes $27.8 million for critical infrastructure repair available to Regional Health Authorities. It is not yet known what portion of this budget allocation will come to Saskatoon Health Region.

“We don’t know all the budget details yet, but I promise we will share those in the coming weeks as we receive them,” says Florizone. “What I can tell you, in terms of infrastructure, is that I will make needed health and safety investments. It’s like the furnace in your house. If it starts to go, you might not have the funds to replace it, but for your own personal welfare, you also can’t afford not to replace it.”

The Region is now putting together its 2015-16 budget, which will be presented to the Regional Health Authority for its approval at its Wednesday, May 20 meeting.

Here is more information on the health portion of today’s provincial budget.

Visit 90 Days of Innovation: Ready Every Day to learn more about work to create breakthrough improvements necessary to achieve our zero wait time targets.