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CUPEs Hospital Employees Union has condemned the latest assault on public health care in British Columbia a plan to ship more than 4 million pounds of hospital laundry and dozens of Fraser Valley jobs to Alberta.

K-Bro Linen Systems an Alberta-based company controlled by a private US investment firm has been given an unprecedented 10-year contract to clean laundry for four Fraser Valley Hospitals. That means the communities of Chilliwack and Mission will lose 43 skilled laundry jobs and $1.5 million in direct economic activity.

Its completely unacceptable that this government and their health authority appointees would ship decent jobs out of the province and health care dollars south of the border, says HEU spokesperson Chris Allnutt. Especially since the projected and unproven operating cost savings are modest at best. But theres serious implications for patient health and safety as well.

Over the next year while the health authority waits for K-Bro to build a laundry facility somewhere in the Lower Mainland millions of pounds of hospital laundry including more that 400,000 pounds of critical operating room linens will be trucked to and from Calgary through some of the most difficult mountain passes on the continent.

Hospitals are constantly resupplying their inventory of sterile OR linens, says Allnutt. Even minor weather-related delays in delivering these supplies could have major repercussions for patient safety.

The union is also calling for a full disclosure of the terms of the contract with K-Bro, raising doubts about whether due diligence was followed in the tendering process.

Campbells health privatization train is picking up steam, says Allnutt. Its headed right out of the province loaded with millions of health care dollars.