Monday September 01, 2014

Sunrise Health running deficit

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The Sunrise Health Region is headed to a deficit on operations for the 2013-14 year.

“We’re forecasting a deficit this year,” said Suann Laurent, CEO and president of SHR at the regular meeting of the SHR Board last week.

At present the operational deficit sits at $1,039,000, a shortfall of about 0.7 per cent on the overall budget. If the deficit remains constant through until the end of the operation’s year, it will be about 0.5 per cent of the overall $218 million budget.

“We’re still hoping to get it as close as possible (to balanced),” offered Laurent. “… We want to be at a balanced budget at all times.”

Laurent said the Region has initiated some measures to address the deficit, and while they will bot be enough to balance the books this year, she hoped the efforts would carry into the 2014-15 year.

The deficit situation is primarily a result of the impact of overtime and staff sick-time, said Laurent.

Board chair Lawrence Chomos said he realizes the situation is not ideal.

“We know we’re not in as desirable a position as we want to be,” he said. “We’re running a deficit and we’re not happy about it.”

The province has been made aware of the expected shortfall.

Chomos said the Deputy Minister of Health has indicated the province “has confidence in the way Sunrise Health Region is handling the situation,” including plans “to get back to a balanced budget.”

Director Walter Streelasky questioned whether the issue was one where the province is simply not providing SHR with sufficient funds?

“I don’t see us getting more money (from the province),” said Laurent.

Chomos picked up on the question.

“Could we use more money? Absolutely,” he said, but added health already takes the lion’s share of provincial funding, and every area -- education, highways etc. -- would say it could use more dollars.

Laurent said while the Region is not happy about the current deficit it is important to remember the previous four years have been balanced.

“We’ve been very fiscally responsible,” she said.

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