About 70 staff are losing their jobs with the Saskatoon Health Region.

The region announced layoffs Thursday, stating about 70 union and non-union employees will be affected.

The move is part of an effort to save $34 million to balance the Saskatoon Health Region budget. About 260 jobs are being affected, but only a portion of the positions are being laid off, a media release from the region states.

“We had hoped to avoid affecting the jobs of any of our over 11,000 employees. However, we knew that with over 70 per cent of our entire budget devoted to staffing, not affecting jobs was extremely unlikely,” said Dan Florizone, the region’s president and CEO.

Non-unionized employees, including managers, were being notified of the layoffs throughout the week, while unionized staff were given layoff notices Thursday during individual meetings.

“We have made these decisions knowing how difficult this is for employees across our region,” Florizone said. “As a public organization, with a responsibility to taxpayers, a balanced budget must be achieved, and with that, job loss has been unavoidable.”

The region finished the 2015-16 fiscal year with a $35.7-million deficit and is projecting a $30.8-million gap between expenses and revenues in its $1.2-billion 2016-17 budget.

Florizone said the region previously tried to reduce costs and minimize job losses by not filling vacancies, instituting an external hiring freeze, reducing overtime costs by 20 per cent and offering out-of-scope voluntary separation program.

He said the total number of people in unionized positions who may lose their jobs won't be known for several weeks given the collective agreement process that could result in workers being able to “bump,” or take the jobs of others with less seniority.

--- with files from The Canadian Press