Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338
May 02, 2000
Animal Health Laboratory to be centralized
As a result of a strategic planning process and feasibility study conducted by the University of Guelph, staffing changes will be made that will affect the province's three Animal Health Laboratory (AHL) facilities at Guelph, Ridgetown and Kemptville.
The key component of the change will be the centralization of most AHL services at the AHL facility in Guelph.
To accomplish the centralization, the AHL facility at Ridgetown will be closed effective May 31, 2000. Staffing will also be reduced at the Kemptville AHL lab. Some staff at both locations will lose their positions, some will be offered positions at the Guelph AHL facility, and some will be offered an early retirement option.
"A primary concern is ensuring that our employees are treated fairly and openly through this process," said Pat Collins, general manager of Laboratory Services, of which the AHL is a part. "There are challenges ahead, and we are counting on their cooperation to make this transition a success. To that end, we are meeting both collectively and individually with all employees to explain the changes under way and to communicate severance packages and employment opportunities where applicable."
The centralization plan will result in the restructuring of the positions currently at the Kemptville and Ridgetown AHL facilities. AHL managers have detailed the centralization plan to staff members at all three AHL facilities and are working with personnel directly affected to see that staffing changes are implemented in a fair and smooth manner. At this time, staffing options are being discussed with those most likely to be affected.
This centralization will not result in a cut to the AHL's budget.
This centralization will allow the AHL to provide a more comprehensive and in-depth service from its Guelph facility. As well, improved transportation and communication systems (couriers, fax, Internet) have allowed centralization of testing facilities to improve efficiency and decrease overhead costs.
"We undertook this planning process in order to better serve our clients," said AHL manager Grant Maxie. "To do so, we need to build on the critical mass already established at the AHL facility at Guelph. Through this centralization, we will enhance our service capabilities in some needed analytical areas. We will have high-quality expertise and experience in one location where information and technology can be shared. The result will be improved services for our clients. I'm also pleased that we'll be able to continue to serve eastern Ontario veterinarians and farmers through the AHL facility at Kemptville, although with reduced staffing."
The AHL is a unit of the Laboratory Services division of the University of Guelph. The AHL provides veterinary diagnostic services for external clients and for the Veterinary Teaching Hospital at the Ontario Veterinary College. Animal disease surveillance is a unique and key function of the AHL. It provides high-quality analysis, using more than 400 tests in the field of animal health. The AHL provides diagnostic reports and consultations in support of veterinary practitioners, a primary client group. Animal health information is also communicated to livestock producers and industry groups. The AHL serves in excess of 600 core clients and performs more than 600,000 tests annually.
A number of enhanced services will be provided by the AHL at Guelph. Improvements will include:
* Extended hours of weekday service and Saturday hours for specimen reception, bacteriology and clinical pathology
* Shorter turnaround times for clinical pathology and bacteriology
* Improved consistency of testing
* Enhanced quality and scope of diagnostic testing.
The AHL facility at Kemptville will continue to provide service to veterinarians and farmers in eastern Ontario, where there is a concentration of livestock farms.
* One veterinary pathologist/disease surveillance specialist and one technician/customer service representative will remain at the AHL facility at Kemptville, which will continue to serve as a regional centre for post- mortems.
* The Kemptville pathologist will provide animal health surveillance and lab outreach, similar to the current activities of the very successful AHL swine health adviser position.
For more information, contact Dr. Grant Maxie, Manager of the Animal Health Laboratory, at 519-824-4120, Ext. 4544, or Alex Wooley, Manager of Media Relations at the University of Guelph, at 519-824-4120, Ext. 6982.