NHA stalls release of key Sodexho reports

News release

Details of relationship with French company must remain secret until October says authority

As the Northern Health Authority evaluates proposals to privatize management of support services like housekeeping and laundry, the Hospital Employees’ Union (CUPE) today charged that the authority is delaying the release of two key reports that could clarify whether the French multinational Sodexho was given the inside track on the tender process.

On July 11, HEU filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act to win the release of two reports prepared by Sodexho for the NHA earlier this year. One of those documents—which the union became aware of through an earlier FOI—is a proposal from Sodexho to enter into a long-term partnership with the authority. But yesterday, the union received word that the health authority is resorting to delay tactics to keep the reports secret until early October—well after a decision is made on the privatized management services tender.

“We’re shocked that the NHA would stoop to this level,” says HEU spokesperson Zorica Bosancic. “What have they got to hide?

“The fact that they’ve refused to make the reports public certainly fuels our suspicion that this tender process wouldn’t pass a smell test,” she says.

Meanwhile, Bosancic says HEU will launch an immediate complaint to the Office of the Information and Privacy commissioner in an effort to make public the two reports before October.

The tender put out by the NHA for privatized management of support services closed June 28, and a decision is imminent. In one previous media story, authority CEO Peter Warwick all but formally admitted that Sodexho had submitted a bid.

A multinational with a blemished track record, Sodexho gained prominence in B.C. earlier this year when media reports highlighted its role in a filthy hospital scandal in Scotland. Later, one of its Canadian executives was at the centre of a storm in B.C. over plans to fire and blacklist HEU members when his company won privatization contracts.

-30- Contact: Stephen Howard, communications director, 604-456-7037