Health Sciences North (HSN) is rationalizing “an unpopular decision” to export the jobs of 40 local hospital laundry workers out of Sudbury by “suggesting it is cheaper” to ship its dirty linen to southern Ontario for cleaning, says Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) president Michael Hurley.

“Even if we accept the hospital claims, the human cost of job loss and the detriment to the local economy, far outweigh the $500,000 they say is being cut in laundry costs. The people of Sudbury built this hospital and have generously funded it and its predecessors for countless years. HSN does not appear to feel the slightest obligation or loyalty to the community that has been so generous to it,” says Hurley.

HSN has an overall yearly budget of half a billion dollars. In an open letter issued by HSN today, the hospital claims switching to an out-of-Sudbury provider and laying off 40 hospital laundry workers will cut only $500,000 from its $500 million yearly budget. This amounts to 0.1 per cent a year. But in the statement, the hospital released no proof of their numbers or information about the contract with Mohawk, a shared hospital services provider in the Hamilton area, which has comparable labour costs.

“We put it to them, that what they say they are going to recoup from taking the jobs out of Sudbury is just not credible. Labour costs are comparable. It is incumbent on them to open up the books, show the community where the money is going with this contract,” says Giselle Dawson, president of CUPE local 2841 which represents staff at the laundry.

More than 100 people joined a rally on Wednesday in support of the laid off hospital laundry staff at area MPP Glenn Thibeault’s office. The move to consolidating hospital services into large shared providers is a key policy of Mr. Thibeault’s Liberal government.

The laundry workers have appealed directly to Mr. Thibeault to intervene, but he has not “done the right thing and advocated like an MPP committed to the wellbeing of the community he represents,” says Sudbury resident, local hospital worker and OCHU secretary-treasurer Sharon Richer. “We are asking him to defend these women and their jobs in Sudbury with the same vigor and passion he gives to defending his Liberal colleagues who are now facing charges over his election.”