Shared Health lays off admin staff, shuffles others to different jobs after NDP targets bureaucracy

Shared Health, the bureaucracy overseeing health care in Manitoba, has been hit by approximately 24 layoffs and an untold number of employees being asked to take different jobs. 

The provincial health-care entity has eliminated approximately 24 non-union administrative positions “that no longer fit within our organization, including some senior managers,” Shared Health CEO Lanette Siragusa confirmed in an email late Friday.

In addition to those layoffs, Shared Health has offered other administrative staff different jobs within the organization. The positions are in “other priority areas,” the statement continued. 

Siragusa didn’t say how many employees have switched jobs. The restructuring happened two to three weeks ago.

She explained the restructuring of administrative staff will create efficiencies that will be “reinvested into supporting our clinical teams and delivering patient care.”

“These were difficult decisions but necessary to ensure we are able to invest and focus on our mandate, including high priority areas that support improved access, quality care and outcomes for patients,” Siragusa said.

A woman in a pink blazer stands at a podium behind a microphone.
Shared Health CEO Lanette Siragusa called the restructuring a difficult decision but necessary to improve outcomes for patients. (Randall McKenzie/CBC)

Only non-unionized staff who don’t provide patient care are impacted by these changes.

“Patient care is unaffected,” she said.

Shared Health didn’t immediately answer late Friday the savings it expects to generate from the restructuring, nor the costs.

Bureaucracy in the crosshairs

The cuts follow repeated comments from the NDP government, elected last fall, that the size of the health-care bureaucracy needs to be reduced after ballooning under the former Progressive Conservative government.

The entity was created in 2018 by the PCs during its overhaul of the health-care system that included the converting of three Winnipeg emergency departments into urgent care centres.

Before the election, Wab Kinew, who was leading the Official Opposition, had promised to cut administration at Shared Health, but his NDP party later walked back that pledge, promising to reduce bureaucratic costs in health care but not singling out Manitoba’s largest service delivery organization specifically.

The government’s mandate letter to the organization’s board in February hinted at a desire for administrative changes. It called for resources to be directed to the front lines “rather than the excessive health-care bureaucracy.”

Health Minister Uzoma Asagwara said their department didn’t sign off on this round of layoffs and job switches, but Shared Health was aware of the province’s desire to reduce bureaucratic costs. 

A non-binary person in a burgundy suit and black shirt stands in the hallway, outside the front door of an office.
Uzoma Asagwara, Manitoba’s health minister, said they support efforts that shift health-care spending from the bureaucracy to the front lines. (Randall McKenzie/CBC)

“I support changes that reduce an overgrown bureaucracy that was rapidly and excessively growing under the previous government’s mandate and redirecting resources to the front lines of our health-care system and redirecting resources to the bedside of Manitobans.”

In recent months, Shared Health has been working on consolidating its operations.

The health-care organization merged its recruitment, retention and training resources, which it said were spread out throughout the organization. 

Some employees who focused primarily on attending career fairs and online outreach were let go, but Shared Health wouldn’t reveal how many.

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