Saskatchewan – A commitment to catch up on surgical backlogs was announced in the Saskatchewan provincial budget leaving SEIU-West members speculating where additional staff will be drawn from given shortages we’re already seeing in health care providers working as part of the surgical team.

“The last time the SaskParty went down this road in 2010, they were able to boost the related classifications like Operating Room Technologist-Licensed Practical Nurses, Operating Room Attendants, and Sterile Processing Workers,” says Barbara Cape, President of SEIU-West. “We do not have the health human resources available within our current staff mix to bolster the needs for our surgical theatres.”

Lisa Zunti, an Operating Room Technologist-License Practical Nurse in Saskatoon, doesn’t know where the additional staff will come from. “The Operating Room Technologist program only accepts one person per year. Why? Why aren’t more LPNs able to take the additional training?”

Since the SaskParty came to power, there have been changes to job classifications throughout the system that illustrate a lack of understanding for the very important skills and attention required to perform the work in health care, leaving the same number of employees to do more with a lot less. In relation to the work of surgical services, it's more than parking a surgeon in front of a patient: the whole team responsible needs to be improved to ensure we have the highly skilled team available to respond to surgical needs.

“For example, our research shows that the number of Sterile Processing Workers are only 20 to 30% of what they were in 2012. That’s a big difference,” continues Cape. “Sterile Processing Workers ensure that the equipment and tools needed for an operation are prepared, sanitized, and immediately available. Their knowledge and experience are essential to surgeons providing timely and safe surgical access.”

SEIU-West is hoping that the proposed new recruitment agency will help shore up health care career vacancies, including those on the hard-to-recruit list that has grown over the last decade (

“Our members are part of the surgical team and are integral to the smooth running of Operating Room Theatres,” adds Cape. “The government needs to ensure there is a full complement to meet the surgical needs of the people of Saskatchewan.”

Service Employees International Union West (SEIU-West) represents over 13,000 people across Saskatchewan. They include people who work in health care, education, municipalities, community-based organizations, retirement homes and other sectors. They are joined by one colour – purple – and one union – SEIU-West. Visit to find out more about SEIU-West members.


For more information, contact:

Leanne Hendriks
Communications Coordinator, SEIU-West
306-652-1011 ext. 2244


Click here to download a printable PDF of SEIU-West's Media Release: Clearing Surgical Backlogs a Team Effort

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