Sudbury laundry workers who received layoff notices last week and local jobs, “are collateral damage” of the Ontario Liberals’ continuing plan to underfund hospitals, says Michael Hurley the president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU).

Hurley will be among others from the community out to support the laundry workers at a rally tomorrow (Tuesday) October 18, 2016 at 11:30 a.m. in front Sudbury Hospital Services, 363 York Street.

Open since the 1970s, Sudbury Hospital Services (SHS) a non-profit company, has provided quality laundry services to local hospitals. Those hospitals are now merged into Health Sciences North (HSN), which is the main “partner” in SHS. But HSN said recently that it is severing the contract with the local laundry as a provincial of cost-cutting measure. HSN is now part of a new “partnership” with a hospital shared service facility in southern Ontario and plans to truck dirty laundry there and clean linens back daily starting in April.

Potentially, it’s not just the laundry workers jobs that are going down the highway to southern Ontario. “More local HSN jobs may be going south as part of these ‘hospital service mergers’ being pushed by the province, ostensibly to cut costs,” says Hurley. “But the provincial government should not pretend there are no costs tied to job loss or trucking dirty laundry for an 800 km round trip. There are no real ‘savings’ to be had from this decision that has both tremendous human and environmental costs.”

Many of the laundry workers slated to lose their jobs are long-time employees. “We’ve been loyal to the hospital. Now we expect that loyalty to be returned,” says Gisele Dawson, president of Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 2841 representing the laundry staff.

Sudbury’s Liberal MPP Glenn Thibeault, says Dawson has an “obligation to the community to keep these and other jobs local. We should not be abandoned by him and his government.”

OCHU is the hospital division of CUPE in Ontario which represents over 35,000 hospital workers province-wide.