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Public Accounts (8 January 2008)

From Public Accounts Committee Hansard - 8 January 2008

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The video for this section of the committee meeting begins at 9:01.

Mr. Reiter: — A brief read of page 176, recommendation no. 2, processing of capital construction grants. The report refers to an $8 million grant for an integrated community health centre in Saskatoon. Couple questions on that. What is that comprised of? I gather it’s more than just a clinic. And also the 8 million in funding: what percentage of the total funding is that? What can you elaborate on that for us?

Ms. Greenberg: — The $8 million is only part of the package. It’s a $12 million project. And the project we’re referring to is called Station 20. And Station 20 has a number of things associated with it, including health. But alongside Station 20 they also have housing that’s going to be provided through Sask Housing. There’s also plans to have a grocery store, some type of co-op grocery store available. But where our funding is going is directed towards the health side. There’s work being done with the University of Saskatchewan, with College of Dentistry and also College of Medicine, to provide services for those residents in that area. It’d be along the lines of community health. There’s also discussions with the regional health authority.

Mr. Reiter: — Okay. So some of the funding is coming from other ministries as well then? From Housing and from Social Services and . . .

Ms. Greenberg: — The $8 million is coming from the Ministry of Health. And the other funding would be raised by the third party — the CBO that is doing it — so Health is the only ministry that’s providing the 8 million.

The housing would be a component of low-income housing that would come through Sask Housing Corporation. That’s separate. It’s just in the same location.

Mr. Reiter: — I see. The report from the auditor refers to processes that should be followed. With that not being the case, with no process in place, what type of due diligence was done on that project?

Ms. Greenberg: — We’ve got a number of processes in place. And it’s true, the auditor’s correct in saying that we didn’t follow the same process for capital grants that we would do following capital construction that was owned or operated by the RHAs [regional health authority]. What we have been doing is that the ministry has been monitoring, though, the way the funds are being used. We have a working committee set up where there’s been work having to be done in terms of what type of facility would be built, what type of things would be provided.

The money actually hasn’t gone to the CBO yet. It hasn’t been released. So the process is in place. There will be due diligence involved, but it’s not part of the sort of 18-step capital process that we have sort of followed when we have worked with the regional health authorities.

Mr. Reiter: — What’s the total cost of the project? What amount of funding would the CBO be putting in?

Ms. Greenberg: — It’s estimated that the total cost of the project is, I believe, $12 million, of which 8 million is coming from the Ministry of Health.

Mr. Reiter: — Okay. I guess it just concerns me a little bit. It seems that it’s sort of a far-reaching project and I just wonder in my own mind whether all that funding should be coming out of the Ministry of Health, if it shouldn’t be involving other ministries. So it’s 8 million from Health and 4 million from the CBO.

Ms. Greenberg: — Mm-hmm.

Mr. Reiter: — Okay.

Ms. Greenberg: — I have some other information in terms of some of the other . . . The grocery store is really a co-op. It’s Good Food co-operative. There’s also the Westside Community Clinic, which is the community clinic that would be involved in this Station 20 project.

. . . The following section begins at 24:51 in the video.

Mr. Reiter: — Just in the preamble . . . sorry, Mr. Chair, there was a big jump and there’s an item on page 181 under human resources plan. Can I deal with that?

The Chair: — Yes. By all means, yes.

Mr. Reiter: — On page 181 of the plan going on to the next, to 182, it talks about a human resources plan. I’m just wondering, I guess, where that’s at and to what scope is that dealing with? Are you looking at a plan . . . Is that dealing with the nursing shortage? If so, to what extent? How long has that been in place? Is it being developed more further as it’s mentioned in the audit report?

Ms. Donnelly: — The beginning of the development of a more public health workforce plan came following the September 2004 first ministers’ agreement that all jurisdictions would develop and publish a health workforce action plan and report on four specific employee categories, nursing being one of them — nursing, pharmacy, I believe medical technology, and physicians. Saskatchewan was one of the first — I believe it was the first — and there’s only been maybe two subsequent to that to actually publish a health workforce action plan. That was published in December ’05. And that was after extensive consultation with the health sector and stakeholders in the health sector including nurses.

There have been a number of initiatives subsequent to that. They’re generally around a three-pillared approach — train, recruit, and retain — and the initiatives within that. There have to date been a number of nursing seats and physician seats added and a commitment to additional nursing seats on the training side, plus additional bursaries on the training side. There have been relocation grants for nurses and for allied professionals to repatriate them back to Saskatchewan.

And on the retention side, we’ve committed $6 million over three years to support retention pilots submitted by regions or professional groups in the health system.

So the three pillars have been train, recruit, retain. It was launched in December ’05. I would say there’s still significant work to do to both monitor and evaluate and to continue to re-craft the recruitment and retention program as we get feedback from the initiatives that we’ve put in place to date.

Mr. Reiter: — No more comments.

. . . The following section begins at 30:39 in the video.

Mr. Reiter: — If I could just back up to . . .

The Chair: — Yes, you bet.

Mr. Reiter: — Table 2 on page 172, the expenditures. I’m just wondering where advertising by the ministry falls in — I assume it’s under other — and what process advertising follows.

Ms. Greenberg: — It’s under our communication branch. The budget would be under communication branch. That would be the only location for advertising. There is some communication dollars that are located in other branches. If it’s about bringing attention, promoting a certain program or service, you know, that might be considered advertising dollars. But our communication branch is the lead.

Mr. Reiter: — So all advertising decisions come through the communications branch then?

Ms. Greenberg: — In working with the deputy’s office and also working with Executive Council.

Mr. Reiter: — Okay. Thank you.

The Chair: — Can I just then take us back to recommendation no. 1 and the committee’s disposition of that recommendation? Listening to the officials, it appears that progress is being made on that particular item. Mr. Reiter.

Mr. Reiter: — I would move that we concur with the recommendation and note progress.

The Chair: — Is that agreed?

Some Hon. Members: — Agreed.

The Chair: — That’s agreed. Then the next item is no. 2, “. . . that the Department of Health establish processes to monitor capital construction grants provided to private sector agencies.” Mr. Reiter.

Mr. Reiter: — I would move that we concur with the recommendation.

. . . The following section begins at 59:35 in the video.

Mr. Reiter: — Question is for the Provincial Auditor. I’m just wondering, the ministry’s just mentioned that they’re looking at it on a province-wide basis now, but I noticed that the report only deals with Sunrise. My question for you is how that was done. Now was this sort of a spot audit on the one RHA or did something . . . I understand, I think there’s independent auditors audit each individual RHA as well. Was that something that was flagged by them? I guess I’m wondering how you keyed on Sunrise.

And also I note that they have two hospitals. Was this sort of a compilation of both hospitals, or was it one specific one?

Ms. Knox: — Thank you. We audit on the basis of risk, so we look across the province at the information available about infection and infection control practices. We identified that there were a number of regional health authorities that already had extensive projects under way with regard to infection control, and we also looked at areas where we had other audits under way. So we try not to overburden individual RHAs. And on the basis of that analysis, we selected Sunrise. And we appreciated very much their co-operation with our audit.

Your second question escapes me. I’m sorry.

Mr. Reiter: — The two hospitals.

Ms. Knox: — Yes, two hospitals. Thank you. Yes. We did audit in both of the two major hospitals. They do have acute care beds in some integrated facilities as well. We did not go there. We looked at their two major hospitals.

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