Back office health agency work to be cut: source

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Employers will begin issuing pink bills to 416 administrative "back office" employees in the LHIN and six other provincial health care agencies on Wednesday, according to a source in the Ontario government.

In total, 825 positions will be eliminated but almost half are currently empty, the source added, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The move comes when the Ontario government reorganizes 14 LHINs and six agencies, including Cancer Care Ontario, under a single agency, Ontario Health.

"With each of these agencies with their own administrative and back-office support, we unnecessarily duplicate operations and spend money that we desperately need to pay and improve direct patient care," Health Minister Christine Elliott said in a statement obtained from Toronto Sun. "These agencies often work towards separate visions, following their distinct work plans, and are not well coordinated around a unitary vision for patient care."

Opposition parties at Queen's Park have been very critical of what they call a useless and potentially expensive centralization of the major health care agencies.

None of the endangered positions are involved in direct front-line patient care, but rather are providing dual administrative services such as communications, planning and data analysis, the source said.

This move will allow for $ 250 million to be reassigned to other health priorities, the source said.

"Everyone should support it, especially when our system is growing … We need so much money for the first possible lines," the source said Tuesday. "When we have this great network of agencies: it is confusing, it is twofold and, at times, they even work for one with the other".

The new health agency of Ontario will consist of the 14 LHINS coordinating home and community care, Cancer Care Ontario, Quality of Health Ontario, eHealth Ontario, Trillium Gift of Life Network, Health Shared Services Ontario and HealthForceOntario Marketing and Recruitment.

Enabling legislation was recently approved at Queen's Park.

The health ministry asked the agencies involved to avoid filling vacancies and to accept early retirement in administrative positions to ensure the fewest layoffs, the source said.

Individuals whose positions are considered redundant will be eligible for separation and support, the source said.

"We recognize that it is affecting people's lives and therefore we certainly don't take it lightly," the source added.

The Doug Ford government's promise to protect public sector jobs applies to frontline services, the source said.

The government statement states that Cancer Care Ontario has already earmarked an additional $ 1.6 million in PET scanning services in Sudbury, allocating them at the expense of the administration's budget.

aartuso@postmedia.com

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