With increasing scrutiny on the outcome of shared hospital services, questions are being raised about the “integrity of the process” used in awarding the hospital laundry contract to an out-of-Sudbury provider.

Aside from what Health Sciences North (HSN) has publicly said about the new contract, there is “very little disclosure about the ‘request for proposals’ process used and whether an environmental impact study was done on trucking dirty laundry hundreds of kilometers away and back. Until there is a thorough investigation completed into the integrity of the tender process, we’re calling for an immediate freeze on this contract, that’s resulted in 40 local workers losing their jobs,” says Michael Hurley president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU/CUPE).

How bids were solicited and how the contract was awarded becomes even murkier still, because HSN is the actual owner of Sudbury Hospital Services.  

“The more we delve into this narrative from the hospital, the more unanswered questions there are,” says Hurley. “Indeed there is considerable speculation about the contract bidding process and there are indicators that HSN’s own facility — the local Sudbury Hospital Services was not invited to enter the bidding process. That privilege was afforded to two out-of-Sudbury providers, one in Ottawa and the other in Hamilton. If that’s true, is this not a compromised process?”

At a rally Tuesday, affected laundry workers appealed to both local MPP Glenn Thibeault and HSN to keep their jobs local. Many of them long-time employees feel “betrayed” by the hospital. 

“The laundry staff feel very abandoned by HSN and the atmosphere in the workplace is rife with rumours. There is speculation that any saving in laundry costs, is really only because the Hamilton company awarded the contract is providing the service free of charge for a period of time,” says Hurley. “Surely HSN feels a sense of obligation to the workers and divulge the request for proposals criteria used and details of the new contract?”

In addition to effectively freezing hospital funding for eight consecutive years, Thibeault’s Liberal government is pushing “integration” of hospital services that often end up in job loss for affected workers. This push is also resulting in large “shared” hospital services companies in southern and eastern Ontario, which are looking to expand their market.

“Is it true that the shared service company in Hamilton is now looking at potentially taking other jobs and work out of the Sudbury hospital? HSN is now a ‘partner’ of that shared service. Is it not incredibly disloyal of Health Sciences North to the people of Sudbury to take enormous financial contributions from them and then move well paid jobs to Hamilton, with plans to move many, many more?” Asks Hurley.