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Regina: Medical Laboratory Technologists in the Regina Health District are demanding the employer take immediate action to deal with the staff recruitment and retention problems in their department.

Shannon Nardin, the Educational Co-ordinator of Diagnostic Cytology in the health district, says the situation has reached a crisis. Weve been working short-staffed for more than two years in diagnostic cytology. Its so hard to attract cytologists here that positions are not even posted any longer, she told a Regina rally at the General Hospital today.

The situation is the same in every section of the lab department, where the vacancy rate averages about 16%.

Ms. Nardin says the poor wages and working conditions are responsible for the recruitment and retention problem. Laboratory technologists just arent prepared to work here when they can make as much as $5 more an hour in Alberta or Manitoba.

In the last two months, the district has lost three lab technologists to Alberta one to British Columbia and one to Switzerland.

Cytologists, who work at microscopes identifying pre-malignant and malignant cells in human tissue, are stressed-out and burnt out, she says.

We do not want to walk off the job, but we are desperate for action and are not prepared to put up with this situation any longer.

There are about 150 medical laboratory technologists in the Regina Health District. In addition to cytology, they work in chemistry, microbiology, haematology, transfusions and histology.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents the laboratory technologists, has scheduled meetings with the Saskatchewan Association of Health Districts (SAHO) and with the health district to discuss a solution to the problem.

Laboratory workers plan to hold another noon-hour rally next Tuesday.

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For more information call Shannon at 525-5874
And leave a message with Natalie