FOI letter suggests Sodexho given inside track on Northern Health Authority privatization tender - HEU
The Hospital Employees’ Union (CUPE) says health minister Colin Hansen should put a stop to a privatization tender put out by the Northern Health Authority after the union obtained a NHA document that raises questions about its relationship with the French corporation Sodexho, which is believed to have submitted a bid.
“We’ve uncovered another example where the integrity of Premier Campbell’s health care privatization scheme appears to have been compromised,” says HEU leader Chris Allnutt.
“It indicates that Sodexho may have been given the inside track on the tender ahead of time,” he says. “It’s deeply disturbing, and the health minister must act to first stop the tender and then to order a thorough and independent investigation into the situation.”
Allnutt says it was publicly known that the NHA paid Sodexho an $86,000 consulting fee earlier this year to revamp delivery of support services like housekeeping, dietary and laundry. But, he says at the heart of HEU’s concerns is a Feb. 21 letter from a senior NHA executive to the company, just obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
In that letter, the NHA requests a second report from the company “which would be a proposal from Sodexho to enter into a long term partnership arrangement” with the NHA to implement the recommendations Sodexho was hired to provide. Neither his union nor the media were aware of the second report, Allnutt says.
Meanwhile, the authority put out a tender to privatize management of laundry, housekeeping and dietary services. It closed June 28. And in a recent published media report, NHA CEO Peter Warwick all but formally acknowledged that Sodexho was one of the two companies submitting bids.
“This is more than just chance or circumstance,” says Allnutt. “It smells. That’s why we want the Campbell government to act to get to the bottom of it.” A multinational with a blemished track record, Sodexho gained prominence in B.C. earlier this year when media reports highlighted its role in a filthy hospital scandal in Scotland. Later, one of its Canadian executives was at the centre of a storm in B.C. over plans to blacklist HEU members when his company won privatization
Allnutt says his union this morning launched a FOI request to obtain a copy of the “long term partnership” report prepared by Sodexho.
For a copy of the Feb. 21 NHA letter to Sodexho go to heu.org/nha-falletta.pdf
Stephen Howard, director of communications