Candidates vying for seats in the upcoming municipal election in Pembroke, Ontario, who are talking up local economic development and jobs are on the right page, say staff trying to keep the area hospital from closing the in-house laundry and axing five full-time local jobs.
However, they add, the Pembroke Regional Hospital is remarkably out of step with the ‘keep it local’ push in the municipal election dialogue because it has plans to shutter the operation and contracting out laundering hospital linens and shipping the laundry jobs elsewhere far down the road.
For the Pembroke hospital workers advocating to keep the hospital laundry open, it’s encouraging that some municipal candidates are openly talking about growing jobs and the local economy. Several of them will be attending next week’s Rotary Club all candidates meeting on October 9. They want to ask some questions and hear first-hand who among the candidates will take a stand to keep jobs local and urge the hospital not to close the laundry in our hospital.
The proposed laundry closure is just the latest push by the Pembroke hospital to shed work and kill local jobs. In the last few years, dozens of hospital jobs have been nixed as entire departments including labs, surgical equipment sterilization and steno have been contracted out.
The laundry has been part of the hospital for almost 100 years. It has provided decent jobs to a traditionally female workforce for generations.
Closing the laundry is both an economic and historical loss to the community, says Michael Hurley, president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU). “It’s most unfortunate that the Pembroke hospital has a myopic view on the impact of another round of job cuts. The hospital saves very little, if anything at all, once the cost of contracting out the work is factored in. Eliminating the salaries of five staff from their budget ledger may look good on paper, but the impact of the job loss to the community multiplies.”
Based on the hospital’s own accounting, almost $300,000 in salaries will be removed from the Pembroke community. This loss of local spending will have a multiplier effect beyond the direct jobs in the hospital as local businesses are affected by reduced spending by hospital workers and the loss of contracts by local businesses with the hospital.