YORKTON -- The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) is calling for the government to save microbiology services at the Yorkton Regional Hospital lab.

The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) is cutting microbiology testing from the hospital, which means starting Sunday, microbiology samples from the Yorkton and area will now be sent to Regina for processing.

Although preliminary testing will be done in Yorkton, bacterial samples will be sent to Regina for cultures. When results are available, they will be emailed to the doctor.

CUPE believes this will result in an increased workload for staff at the Regina lab and will cause delays that could have life-threatening consequences.

“We just had a couple of winter storms. If you don’t have the roads open to get the test to Regina, you’ve got a delay, which could impact treatment of those waiting for those test results,” said Sandra Seitz, president of CUPE 5430.

According to CUPE, the Yorkton lab process thousands of life-saving tests per year. With staffing issues prominent in microbiology lab services nation-wide, the employees in the Yorkton lab would not be using their full scope of practice.

“Rural health care should be continued and should have the services there to provide residents and that may include recruiting and retraining universal health care,” said Seitz.

During question period on Friday, NDP Health Critic Vicki Mowat said cutting lab services during a global pandemic does not make sense.

“They are concerned for their jobs, they are concerned about what sending samples all the way to Regina will mean for patient care and frankly, Mr. Speaker, they are confused,” said Mowat.

Minister of Rural and Remote Health Everetty Hindley said that there wont be a delay in processing.

“My understanding is, regardless of what’s happening in Regina with capacity, it would not affect the processing capability in Regina,” said Hindley.

CUPE is encouraging people to take action by writing their MLA.