On May 12, Jean Hébert, CEO of the Centre intégré de la santé et des services sociaux de l’Outaouais (CISSSO) announced a plan to balance budgets at the CSSS de Gatineau, which was merged to form the CISSSO on April 1. A plan to cut nearly $20 million in expenses for the 2015-16 fiscal year has caused many health unions to protest despite Hébert’s reassurances.
“The plan may seem ambitious, but we firmly believe it is realistic, achievable and necessary,” said Hébert. “We managed to face significant challenges in the past and we are committed to returning to a balanced budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year by realizing the measures that have been identified." Despite Hébert’s efforts to highlight the merits of his plan, he could not convince Andrée Poirier, Vice President of Gatineau’s l’Alliance du personnel professionnel et technique du réseau de la santé et des services sociaux (APTS).
$20 million cut, 39 jobs abolished
“We are still in shock over the scale of cuts. Thirty-nine positions will be
eliminated here: social workers, educators, psychologists. By cutting positions, we are increasing the responsibilities for other professionals who are already out of breath,” said Poirier.
According to Hébert’s team’s
predictions, these measures, which are related to increasing productivity, will allow for the same services to be offered while reviewing the organization of work,
maintaining or increasing volumes, and reducing costs and duplication.
Poirier explained she cannot grasp the duplication concept mentioned, but that it is not what offends the unions the most. “The main reason we are reacting is because of the statement that patient
services will not be touched. About 120 positions have been eliminated – don’t be fooled!” added Poirier.
The changes proposed by the new administration have been introduced in order to increase the productivity of some facilities, to better compare with other, more-efficient facilities. Poirier said this approach is hard to understand: “We are apparently not performing well, so they are making cuts, but if we are not operating effectively, it may be because we do not have enough money or human resources as is. We are told we must become comparable to other institutions, but if there is an
establishment in Quebec that is efficient, how is it that cuts are announced
throughout the system?” asked Poirier.
However, as Hébert highlighted, “We cannot continually renew the deficit of the previous year. It is only by balancing our budget that we will be able to achieve our organization’s development projects. . ..”.