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It’s been touted as a model for primary health care reform, but staff at the Saskatoon Community Clinic are organizing to head off layoffs in the new year.

Faced with a deficit, the clinic board recently proposed laying-off or reducing the hours of work of 13 unionized staff, members of CUPE Local 974.

Shortly after the plan was announced the local went public with its concerns. They called on the provincial government to cover the budget shortfall, and enlisted the support of clients and community allies.

We received a very positive response from our clients, says Carla Smith, president of CUPE Local 974, which represents over 90 workers at the clinic. We were able to get a meeting with all the Saskatoon MLAs, because there were so many calls to their offices.

As a result of the local’s action, the government has initiated discussions about base funding with all five of Saskatchewan’s community clinics.

Over the past number of years, the clinic has not been properly funded, with positions either being eliminated or not filled, says Smith. The province’s health department provides the bulk of the clinic’s funding.

Our clinic has proven that delivering a broad range of services by a multi-disciplinary team of health care providers results in better health for patients at a lower cost. We should expand this model, not roll it back.