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Hospital Employees Union Finds No Validity for Privatizing Laundry Services

The Hospital Employees’ Union says the Interior Health Authority (IHA) has failed to establish a valid case for privatizing laundry services in the region.

The Union has released information saying that Simon Fraser University economist Marvin Shaffer has obtained two documents from IHA through a Freedom of Information request and analyzed them. Last year, IHA announced that it would seek bids from the private sector to take over all or part of its laundry operations at five major hospitals in Kelowna, Vernon, Kamloops, Penticton, and Nelson, along with services in six smaller communities. An announcement on IHA's plans for the laundry is expected before year's end.

The Union says that IHA concludes that outsourcing laundry would yield savings for the company, but according to Shaffer there are no valid financial analyses to support the claim. The Union goes on to say that the costs of building a public-private partnership arrangement would cost an estimated $20 million. Another document pegged the cost at $10 million, if it was built by the private sector.

"There is no explanation of why there should be such a discrepancy, particularly given that in both cases the facility would be built by the private sector," said Shaffer.

Shaffer's analysis was commissioned by the Hospital Employees' Union, which represents 175 laundry workers who would be impacted by the contracting-out initiative.

The health authority has publicly acknowledged that the current in-house laundry service is run efficiently, but can't afford to maintain its operations over the next decade.

In recent months, councils in Nelson, Kamloops, Williams Lake, Summerland, Vernon, and 100 Mile House have passed motions opposing the privatization scheme, and more than 12,800 concerned citizens signed a petition speaking out against the loss of this public service and family-supporting jobs in their communities.


 
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