Laundry decision given extension

It’s still unknown if laundry services will be privatized at Vernon Jubilee Hospital

  • Nov. 27, 2015 6:00 p.m.

It’s still unknown if laundry services will be privatized at Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

The Interior Health Authority has announced that any possible changes to laundry services at all hospitals are on hold.

“As the new president and chief executive officer of Interior Health, I plan to take additional time in reviewing the future of our laundry services,” said Chris Mazurkewich.

“Subsequently, a decision on the possibility of outsourcing the service will not occur until at least March when recommendations are presented to the IH board of directors for its consideration. This process has taken, unfortunately, longer than anyone anticipated, and I want to take the time to understand all of the complexities around this significant issue.”

Mazurkewich admits that the delay may be frustrating for 175 laundry staff who are anticipating a decision.

“In moving forward, I plan to work with the team leading the review to gather all of the information available to ensure we make a thorough recommendation to our board,” he said.

Mazurkewich’s announcement is being welcomed by the Hospital Employees Union.

“We’re pleased that under new leadership, the IHA is taking a serious look at the plans for hospital laundries,” said Jennifer Whiteside, HEU secretary-business manager.

“So far, we have not seen any valid justification for the health authority to forge ahead with contracting out this efficient, publicly delivered service. We need the IHA to be a champion of protecting family-supporting jobs and a clearly well-run service in their region. That would be a win-win situation for everybody.”

Recently, Simon Fraser University economist Marvin Shaffer reviewed two IHA documents to analyze its rationale for outsourcing laundry services, and he says he found no valid business case for privatization.

In one document, the cost of building the facility using a public-private partnership arrangement was estimated at $20 million. Another document pegged the cost at $10 million, if it was built by the private sector.

“There is no explanation of why there should be such a discrepancy, particularly given that in both cases the facility would be built by the private sector,” said Shaffer.

Shaffer’s review was commissioned by the HEU.