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One of Canada’s most efficient public hospital laundries is the next target in the Campbell government’s insatiable privatization agenda.

Amid the controversy over yesterday’s announcement by the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority that it would contract out vital housekeeping services and fire 950 skilled and experienced workers, it quietly issued a request for proposals to privatize Tilbury Laundry.

Tilbury is a regional facility in Delta that provides top quality laundry services for many Lower Mainland health care facilities.

“This is yet another example of the bankrupt logic of the government’s rush to contract out important hospital support services,” says Zorica Bosancic, spokesperson for the Hospital Employees’ Union (CUPE).

“Clean, sterile linen is critical for the well being of patients in our hospitals,” she says. “By contracting out this service to the lowest bidder, the government and its health authority are putting patients at risk.”

The move - which will impact about 150 HEU members at the facility - comes less than six weeks after VCHA CEO Ida Goodreau praised Tilbury’s efficient operation at a public meeting.

“It’s a clear sign of the ideological nature of the move,” Bosancic says. “Tilbury is an example of how the public sector can provide an effective, efficient service and pay workers decent wages that allows them to live and raise families in a region with the highest living costs in Canada. “That’s why the government wants to eliminate it.

“Our members feel betrayed that the quality service that they’ve helped build over the last 23 years is being put on the chopping block.”

A confidential briefing document on privatization prepared for the Campbell government and obtained by HEU notes that “significant savings have been achieved through Tilbury laundry.”

Over the past month, Bosancic says HEU made a number of offers to meet with the VCHA to discuss ways to make Tilbury even more efficient to help deal with the health authority’s budget pressures. But Goodreau personally rejected that offer.

Margi Blamey, communications officer 604-456-7094