From the You Couldn’t Make This Stuff Up Department comes news the provincial government really can’t run a doughnut shop.
Purists will point out that the proper accusatory phrase for administrative incompetence is “couldn’t run a lemonade stand,” but in this instance the doughnut shop allegory is apt, since it is truth rather than hyperbole.
(Defenders of the government will jump in with a double-double dose of excuses: “That wasn’t Kathy. That was Eastern Health.” Hold onto that thought. It will come in handy 10 or 20 years from now as an excuse for the Muskrat Falls fiasco: “That wasn’t Kathy. That was Nalcor.” Whatever gives you comfort.)
But the inability of Eastern Health/the Government of Newfoundland (and Labrador) to earn a buck by brewing Tim Hortons is just the tip of the Iced Capp.
Far more troublesome is the inconsistency, illogic and irrationality of the statements by Health Minister Susan Sullivan and Eastern Health CEO Vickie Kaminski.
Holes in argument
To cut $43 million from its budget, Eastern Health will eliminate 550 “full-time equivalent” jobs by leaving positions unfilled when people retire, cutting back on overtime worked by employees and cutting the hours of part-time workers.
Kaminski, Sullivan and Premier Kathy Dunderdale say there will be no layoffs, nor a decline in health-care services to patients.
This is where evidence emerges of why these people can’t run a doughnut shop.
They make a huge mistake, even before the coffee begins to drip, by assuming “no layoffs” means workers’ collective output will remain steady rather than drop. Actually, “no layoffs” means there will be no layoffs, full stop.
But there will be a decline in staff — by their own estimate, the equivalent of 550 people.
The reasoning of doughnut shop proprietors KSD (Kaminski/Sullivan/Dunderdale) is so stale it is inedible.
To accept as true their assertion that services will not decline even though Eastern Health will have 550 fewer positions, we must also accept — and KSD must also admit — that those 550 positions did nothing to benefit patients.
KSD can’t have it both ways. They cannot, at the same time, assert those 550 positions were benefiting patients, but that their removal will not affect patients.
So, which is it?
Either those 550 positions brought benefits to patients, in which case they should not be cut, or those 550 positions had no impact on patients, in which case management should be asked, “Why were they there in the first place?”
If the latter is the case, the ineffectualness and “inefficiency” of KSD goes beyond the doughnut shop.
Floored by stats
Pour yourself a hot cuppa and try to make sense of Kaminski’s declaration that it costs $119 to clean a square metre of hospital floor in St. John’s, but only $70 — on average — to clean a square metre of hospital floor in the rest of Canada.
Moppers cleaning the floors at the Health Sciences Centre apparently cost $49 more per square metre than at other Canadian hospitals. It certainly can’t be because the wages of Newfoundlanders (and Labradorians) far outstrip those of other Canadians.
No. By Kaminski’s own admission, Eastern Health has too many moppers.
But who hired all those moppers?
Weren’t they hired by the same agency that ran the doughnut shop?
This is indeed unsettling. The public relies on Eastern Health to determine, say, how many cardiologists and radiologists are needed in St. John’s, and yet Eastern Health is unable to accurately determine how many people are needed to mop the floor.
Perhaps the search for health-care “inefficiencies” should start right at the top.
Brian Jones is a desk editor at The Telegram. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.