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Questions raised about authority’s interest in Alberta laundry facilities

Health care workers attending today’s northern health authority board meeting voiced their opposition to two recently announced privatization moves that could put more than 150 workers on the unemployment rolls.

Early in the week Simon Fraser Lodge, a long-term care facility in Prince George, announced its intention to contract out all housekeeping, laundry, maintenance, dietary, and recreation support staff. A Request for Proposals will be posted within the next two weeks and it’s expected results will be known before the end of August.

On the heels of that announcement, the health authority took its first step toward privatizing the region’s laundry and linen services by issuing a Request for Expressions of Interest that will close July 16, 2003.

Workers took the opportunity to question whether a recent trip by authority managers to a Grande Prairie, Alberta laundry facility signals their intention to truck dirty linen across the border, along with health care workers’ jobs.

The Board responded that all proposals would be welcome.

Workers say contracting out will reduce the quality of care patients now receive and adversely affect the economy of northern communities in the process. With unemployment rising in the north, they say eliminating decent paying jobs that support families and communities doesn’t make sense.