06/26/2014 12:01 EDT | Updated 08/26/2014 05:59 EDT

No frontline job cuts from Nova Scotia health authority merger: Minister

HALIFAX - No frontline jobs will be cut as Nova Scotia works towards merging nine of its district health authorities, Health and Wellness Minister Leo Glavine said Thursday.

Reducing the number of health authorities from 10 to two — one for the IWK Health Centre and one for the rest of the province — was an election promise last year by the Liberal party. It forecast the province would save $13 million a year through amalgamation.

While most of the savings would coming from shared services and staffing reductions, Glavine said the only positions to be cut would be from management.

"We will not be giving the pink slips other than to CEOs and VPs," Glavine said, adding that other savings would be achieved as the system's aging workforce reached retirement over the next five to 10 years.

"Attrition really is what I call the gift of this amalgamation process."

Glavine could not provide figures on the total cost of the mergers but said the department's transition team would provide more details in legislation to be introduced in September.

Still, he acknowledged the inevitability of costs up front before savings could be realized.

"I see a little bit of that short-term requirement to make sure everything is running well," said Glavine. "Over the long term, no question, there will indeed be savings."

While the headquarters for the newly consolidated health authority has not yet been confirmed, Glavine said his preference would be to put the operational centre in Truro.

Glavine said the small operational board would include a CEO, a financial officer and various vice presidents, and would ideally be located in one of the province's existing facilities. Most other administration jobs would not move, he added.

While the amalgamation would result in eight fewer health authorities, Glavine said there is no guarantee the head of the new organization would be selected from an existing list of CEOs.

The government wants to complete the merger by April 1, 2015.