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Yorkton: The Canadian Union of Public Employees is slamming the service and job cutbacks contained in the East Central Health Districts 2002-03 budget unveiled today.

This health district is once again putting a greater priority on balance sheets than on the delivery of quality health care, said Pearl Blommaert, president of CUPE Local 3991, which represents support workers in the health district.

The East Central Health District is closing laundry services and kitchens at health centres and long-term care facilities throughout the district, which will result in the elimination of several housekeeping and laundry aide, cleaner, dietary aide and cook positions. The district plans to lease vehicles to transport linen and meals to the various facilities.

The district is also accelerating the closure of the Park Long Term Care Unit in Yorkton, which will eliminate nursing aide, orderly and licenced practical nursing positions. In total, the health district budget is eliminating 21.6 full-time equivalent staff positions.

Standardizing housekeeping and centralization of dietary services will do little to increase efficiencies, but they will definitely erode the care residents in this health district receive, said Blommaert.

Blommaert said the deficits that the East Central Health District has accumulated have been due to mismanagement and enormous amounts of paid overtime. She noted, however, that no management positions are being cut in the budget.

Once again, this health district is trying to balance the budget on the backs of our members. It hasnt worked in the past, and it wont work now.

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For more information contact Pearl Blommaert at 621-5057