Saskatchewan health-care security review sparks union's fear of contracting out

SASKATOON — An external review of security done for the Saskatchewan Health Authority has triggered a big union's concerns about the potential for the contracting out of security services at provincial health-care facilities.

The review by consultant Tony Weeks of BigLean Consultation and Advisory Services produced 27 recommendations to improve security.

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His report suggests developing a business case that would look at different staffing options, including the continued use of in-house personnel, contracting out, or a blend of the two.

Service Employees International Union-West represents more than 100 health authority-employed security officers at various health-care facilities.

Union vice-president Neil Colmin says bringing in people with no background in health care and no knowledge of these workplaces would be detrimental.

He says the union will go over the review with the authority next month and advocate for retaining in-house security.

Colmin said current health authority security officers are highly trained and understand the values and needs of the public health- care system.

He expects the authority will find that the busiest of its more than 200 facilities have security needs that are under-served, and he believes the best way to meet those needs is to train more in-house security staff.

The review consisted of multiple focus groups, including Metis and Indigenous groups, as well as a survey of security staff and physicians.

Among the 27 recommendations is a call to centralize and standardize security infrastructure and technology, investigations, equipment, reporting and training.

"The review explored ways of improving safety in the workplace by implementing best practices in security services," wrote Weeks.

"The new security program will be built with a focus on staff and patients, who deserve the safest possible environment, free from danger or threat," he said.

There is no deadline for implementing any of the recommendations. (CJWW, CTV Saskatoon, The Canadian Press)

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