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Say No to Contracting Out in Saskatchewan's Health Care Security Services
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Dear honourable health ministers Jim Reiter and Greg Ottenbreit and SHA CEO Scott Livingstone and VP Andrew Will, I am concerned that the Security Services Review underway in the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) is motivated by a desire to cut costs and contract out services rather than to improve safety in health care. No one can deny the evidence of increased violent incidents and threatening behavior in health care facilities, as well as in home care, in recent years. However, the SHA security survey contains leading questions, and the choice of an external consultant – Tony Weeks – to lead the review is worrisome. Mr. Weeks has a questionable record across Canada when it comes to respecting workers’ rights in health care. Furthermore, his involvement in restructuring security services in Alberta coincided with the elimination of more than 100 in-house positions and the partial contracting out of security services to the private B.C. firm Paladin. With a dramatic increase in violent incidents and safety concerns in Saskatchewan health care, front-line workers have the solutions we need in Saskatchewan: more in-house staff, proper equipment and training, and improved systems for incident reporting and follow-up. Safe, quality health care means having an adequately staffed, properly trained and equipped in-house security team. It does not mean cutting jobs and contracting out to the lowest private bidder. I suspect recommendations from the review will contain reductions by way of contracting out security but this will be explained as better for the people of Saskatchewan. What it will really mean is cost-cutting at the expense of safety. Whether one is accessing health care, visiting a family member in care, or working as a health care provider, safety should never be in question. I urge the Ministry of Health and the Saskatchewan Health Authority to ensure that quality publicly funded, publicly delivered and publicly administered security services are in place. Anything less reduces the quality of our health care environments and puts us all at greater risk.
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