Warning message

Please note that this page is from our archives. There may be more up-to-date content about this topic on our website. Use our search engine to find out.
Regina: CUPE health care workers issued a warning yesterday that the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region’s proposal to contract-out food services is a recipe for disaster.

Last month the health region disclosed plans to privatize food services at the Regina General Hospital, Pasqua Hospital and Wascana Rehabilitation Centre.

But 200 CUPE members, in attendance at a provincial union health conference in Regina yesterday, vowed to fight the proposal.

In debate on an emergency resolution dealing with the issue, delegates lined up at the microphones to chastise the health region for cooking-up the privatization scheme.

“The residents of this health district have no appetite for privatizing any part of our public health care system,” says Campbell. “That’s why the people who came up with this half-baked plan are calling it ’an alternative meal service program.’”

The health region says it wants to sign a deal with Atlanta-based giant Morrison Health Food Service and several other companies to establish a “food assembly centre” at the Regina General Hospital.

Morrison’s parent company – Compass Group – is part of the BC Liberal government’s plan to privatize food and other hospital services.

Instead of cooking food in hospital kitchens, the health region proposes to use a “cook/chill system” where food is trucked in from off-site and then reheated with expensive equipment that needs to be replaced every 9 – 10 years.

The health region estimates at least 47 kitchen and dietary positions will be abolished.

Although the health region says the $4.6 million project will improve the taste of the food, Campbell disputes that claim. “If the region really wanted to improve the quality of food, they would hire more cooks, instead of eliminating jobs and closing kitchens.”

The union says the health region’s real motivation is to cut costs. The health region says it will save $1.88 million annually.

But the experience of other jurisdictions suggests that won’t happen. In Winnipeg, for example, where nine food service production facilities were amalgamated, costs exceeded projections by $3 million and the project was quickly abandoned.

CUPE is demanding the health region abandon its privatization plan. “The health region will have more than re-thermalized food on its face if it moves to privatize hospital food services,” Campbell warns. “It will also have to deal with higher costs and public outrage.”

More debate is expected on the issue at the CUPE annual convention, which begins today at the Regina Delta Hotel.

- 30 -

For information contact:
Gord Campbell at 757-7925