LifeLabs closing 15 patient labs, three testing facilities in bid to reduce costs

LifeLabs, the largest medical lab provider in the province, is closing patient labs in 15 communities along with testing facilities in Ottawa, London and Thorold.

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Hours of operation are also being cut at 53 locations. In a questions and answers document posted on its website.

The company said it is eliminating a total of 122 jobs.

“Over the last several years, we have demonstrated tremendous efficiency by managing a growing volume of patients resulting in service and inflationary pressures while at the same time operating within a constrained fiscal environment,” reads a statement signed by LifeLabs president and CEO Sue Paish.

“Compounding these cost pressures, we have absorbed a series of government funding reductions in Ontario over this period.”

An expert panel appointed by provincial Health Minister Eric Hoskins last year to review and improve Ontario’s community lab sector found the sector was inefficient and could absorb $50 million to $100 million less overall funding. The government reduced funding by $50 million.

A spokesperson for Hoskins said the changes are about company restructuring, not government funding.

The impact on patients will be “negligible” and closures are only happening in areas where there was duplication, said the spokesperson.

LifeLabs took over Mississauga-based CML Healthcare Inc. for $1.2 billion in 2013. Critics at the time predicted the takeover would result in labs closing but LifeLabs vowed it wouldn’t happen.

The Toronto-based company manages hundreds of labs in Ontario and British Columbia and says it processes more than 77 million clinical tests in Ontario alone yearly. That volume of testing won’t change, the company said.

Paish said the company reviewed all its operations to find savings with the lowest impact on patients and physicians.

She vowed that travel times to LifeLabs locations “will continue to be reasonable” and “all reasonable turnaround times will be maintained.”

Tests currently performed in Ottawa, London and Thorold will be done at five remaining LifeLabs facilities.

There are no closures planned for British Columbia.

Closures will begin this month and extend into the fall.



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