The leadership of CUPE 5430, the largest health care union in Saskatchewan, are touring health care facilities in the Weyburn area this week to hear first hand from frontline health care staff about their concerns.

“Short staffing is the top issue for many of our members. The current challenges with recruiting and retaining staff are putting additional stress and pressure on our members and leading to service disruptions across the region,” said Bashir Jalloh, president of CUPE 5430 and a nuclear medicine technician.

Over the last several months there have been service disruptions and emergency rooms on bypass in numerous facilities including Oxbow, Arcola, Redvers, and Radville. Services are limited in Weyburn and Estevan and many patients are being sent to Regina to access care.

“The government is focused on recruiting from the Philippines, but ignoring the untapped resources we have in the province, such as the Indigenous community. Past efforts including the representative workforce strategy, which was cancelled by the Sask. Party, were very successful in hiring Indigenous people who stayed in positions. We are also calling for measures to improve retention such as improvements to compensation, scheduling, and more permanent, full-time jobs,” added Jalloh.

CUPE 5430 is also concerned about the status of the Weyburn General Hospital, the construction delays on the new build and the planned bed reduction.

“Our members are concerned about the condition of the current hospital. A new hospital was first announced in 2020, with a promise of it opening in 2023. Well, it is 2023, and though a construction company has been named, there has yet to be shovels in the ground,” said Adrienne Gardiner, GVP of Region 4. “We are also seriously concerned about the decrease in the number of beds. Weyburn is one of the fastest growing communities in Saskatchewan – but the SHA is building a hospital with less acute care beds than originally announced. They say that it is a capacity issue, but it seems they are giving up ensuring adequate staffing levels are in place.”

CUPE 5430 represents over 13,000 health care providers across Saskatchewan, including 1,400 members for the former Sun Country Health Region.