The Interior Health Authority (IHA) announced Tuesday that it is moving ahead with contracting out a large portion of their laundry services despite opposition by the health authority’s in-house laundry staff and their union. The health authority says it has struck a deal with Ecotex Healthcare Linen Service Inc. to provide laundry services.
The union says the move will outsource laundry work in five larger centers around the health region including Vernon, Kelowna and Penticton.
IHA says that the change will save $35 million dollars over 20 years.
“We will be able to increase our investment in facilities and equipment to support direct patient care, including necessary upgrades and expansions of our emergency departments and operating rooms,” said IHA’s board chair Erwin Malzer in a press release.
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The Hospital Employees’ Union (HEU), which represents the laundry employees, says over a hundred people will lose their jobs because of the decision.
“This decision is deeply disappointing for hospital laundry workers,” says HEU spokesperson Jennifer Whiteside.
“Could you imagine if you were a hospital laundry worker getting up tomorrow morning knowing that your job is not going to be here in another year, it is going to be privatized, how that would impact you day-in, day-out going to work.”
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The switch to privatized laundry service in many parts of the health authority isn’t expected to take place till next year.
“This change is expected to occur in the summer of 2017 once Ecotex has completed the development of a centralized laundry facility in Kelowna,” says Donna Lommer, the health authority’s chief financial officer.
“We have all sorts of high clinical priority needs that are making demands for our capital funding that makes it difficult to free up dollars for laundry services when we do know we have alternative service providers that could do the job for us.”
The union says laundry work is not being outsourced at six other locations including in Princeton.