Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Rural health authority jobs victims of amalgamation

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SMALL-TOWN Manitoba isn't just losing jobs to government office closures, municipal amalgamations and the closing of 24 Manitoba Hydro service offices.

Regional health authority amalgamations are also cutting or transferring jobs out of rural centres.

The latest are health administration jobs being transferred out of eastern Manitoba communities such as Oakbank, Beausejour and Pinawa to a new central office in Selkirk. It's part of the amalgamation of the Interlake Health Authority and the Northeast Health Authority.

"Two decades ago, we had decentralization (where government offices were moved into some rural centres) to spur local economies. Now we're going in the opposite direction," said Reg Black, a realtor in Beausejour and a member of the non-profit Beausejour-Brokenhead Development Corp.

The new name is Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority. The amalgamation was official last year, but the shuffling of staff is just starting. From 30 to 40 people will eventually be required to start commuting to the regional health authority head office in Selkirk, said John Stinson, CEO of the new IERHA. The majority of those will come out of Beausejour, he said.

The central office for the amalgamated health district came down to a competition between Selkirk and Beausejour -- that Selkirk won. The office is in the Sunova building. The health authority was required to spend only $40,000 in renovations to make the space suitable. The amalgamation already is saving about $1 million per year in administrative costs, Stinson said.

Only five positions were eliminated, but many more jobs are being relocated, Stinson said. He maintained some other people will move into space vacated in Beausejour due to job relocation but that has yet to be determined. Four positions are also moving out of Stonewall to Selkirk, he said.

The amalgamations are taking place across Manitoba and are a provincial government initiative. The process is shrinking the number of RHAs down to five from 11. It will save $10 million in administrative costs, the government says.

bill.redekop@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 25, 2013 A6

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