Sudbury’s local economy will take a yearly $6.4 million financial hit, if the laundry is closed and 50 hospital laundry workers lose their jobs. That’s the finding of the independent economic impact analysis, Greater Sudbury council asked for earlier in January, to assess the effect of a Health Sciences North (HSN) decision to sever its local hospital laundry contract and use a provider in Hamilton.

When HSN announced plans in the fall of 2016 to end its near 50-year laundry contract with Sudbury Hospital Service (SHS), the hospital claimed it would shave roughly $500,000 from its annual budget.

“So while the hospital claims it will cut $0.5 million from its budget, the impact on our local community due to job cuts and less spending by the laundry at local businesses is more than $6.4 million. This study says that collectively our community and local economy is on the losing end of this deal by nearly $6 million more a year than HSN claims it will save shipping dirty linens down the highway.

“Penny wise, pound foolish doesn’t even begin to describe this illogical misstep by both the hospital and provincial government that’s killing jobs here and hurting our Sudbury economy by forcing health service mergers and shipping jobs to southern Ontario,” says Sharon Richer the secretary-treasurer of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU).

38 of the 50 hospital laundry workers slated to lose their jobs are members of Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 2841. OCHU represents over 30,000 hospital staff province-wide and is CUPE’s hospital division in Ontario.

Gisele Dawson president of CUPE 2841 has repeatedly appealed to area MPP Glenn Thibeault to intervene to keep the hospital laundry jobs local. Over 90 per cent of Sudbury residents polled responded they want the MPP and HSN to do just that, keep the jobs local.

“It is very disheartening because he’s not followed up on any of the commitments he made to help us, our families and the local economy. This economic impact study shows Sudbury’s economy will lose big time – millions of dollars – each year, in fact. Surely now he will feel compelled to stand up publicly for us, get the layoffs rescinded and HSN’s decision to take the hospital laundry contract south, scrapped,” Dawson says.

 “We want our MPP to push his government to invest in these jobs here in Sudbury by keeping the hospital laundry open and upgrading the facilities. Surely the province could support a loan to the laundry to upgrade its equipment to save the community this economic impact?” Asks Richer. The province must also make it clear to HSN that it will not lose $500,000 from its budget, if it continues to use SHS to launder linens, and she added, this must happen before March 17, the day the SHS hospital laundry workers have been told will be their last.

In the meantime, Dawson is asking Sudbury council to use its influence now that they have the economic impact numbers to “keep our jobs here, so the whole community can benefit.”