10/04/2011 10:07 EDT | Updated 12/04/2011 05:12 EST

Saskatchewan Private Health Care: Canadian Union of Public Employees Demands To Know Why Government Paying For Private Surgeries

REGINA - The Canadian Union of Public Employees is demanding to know why the Saskatchewan government has been paying for private clinic surgeries.

Union spokeswoman Suzanne Posyniak says it's an important question since numbers show that there are fewer surgeries being performed in the Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region.

Posyniak says there were almost 600 fewer surgeries performed in the health region in the 10 months that followed the beginning of the contract than the year before.

But Patrick O'Byrne, director of hospitals and specialty care with the Department of Health, says the numbers released by CUPE are wrong.

He says the union reported 2,045 surgeries being completed in July 2010 when in fact there were 1,439.

He says this puts the number of surgeries between 2009 and 2010 at a very similar amount.

O'Byrne insists the important thing to focus on is the wait lists, stating that they have reduced the amount of people waiting for surgery for more than 18 months down to 103 from almost 800.

CUPE says the government has been contracting procedures out to the Omni Surgical Centre since October 2010.

“We are questioning what the true reasons for privatizing these surgeries was in the first place,” says Posyniak.

She says the government owes taxpayers an explanation because the numbers indicate all these procedures could have been done in house and contracting them out to a private clinic was unnecessary.