The provincial government released a plan to overhaul how health care is managed and delivered in Manitoba Tuesday that will see cuts to the number of organizations, boards and bargaining units in the health care system.

The province said key principles behind the ‘Health Care Transformation Program’ include making the system more effective and sustainable through integration, more cost efficient through realignment, more accountable through clarification of roles, and more simplified and streamlined.

The plan calls for changes in three waves over the next five years. During the first wave, organizations within the health care system, such as regional health authorities and those that deliver specific services, will be realigned and consolidated, and bargaining units will be restructured. The province has set a goal to reduce the number of bargaining units from 183 to 40 and the number of organizations from 12 to eight.

Wave two will see services extended with the goal of achieving more consistent care across the province, including for emergency medical services. It will also see the recently established provincial organization, Shared Health, take over operation of the Selkirk Mental Health Centre and Cadham Provincial Laboratory.

The third wave will focus on optimizing the new system and continuing the implementation of other changes that began in previous waves.

In a news release, Health, Seniors and Active Living Minister Kelvin Goertzen said changes will lead to a better, more financially stable health care system.

“Patients will see more clearly defined pathways to care and experience improved access to services, shorter wait times and more consistent and reliable services in communities across the province,” he said.

The president of one of the unions representing health care workers released a statement expressing disappointment over the lack of details included in the blueprint.

“We were hopeful that today’s announcement would shed some light on how the government plans to implement all these health care cuts,” said Michelle Gawronsky, president, MGEU, adding that the union was left with more questions than answers following a press conference and briefing for health officials.

“The health care system is in chaos right now,” the statement continued. “There’s no transparency for staff and patients, and it really feels like they are making it up as they go along.”