Laundry, housekeeping key targets as two health authorities announce first round of sweeping privatization initiatives

News release

Without any consultation or public discussion, the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority (VCHA) and the Fraser Health Authority (FHA) are implementing the Campbell Liberals’ sweeping privatization targets in a move that will result in hundreds of job losses and put patient care at risk.

In a news release issued this morning, the VCHA announced the first phase of privatization that will target laundry and linen services at Vancouver General Hospital and Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver; along with housekeeping services at some VGH building sites that it claims do not include in-patient wards.

And the FHA notified staff by memo that it has issued requests for proposals as a first step in privatizing laundry services throughout the Fraser Valley and groundskeeping throughout the entire authority.

“This is the opening salvo in the Campbell government’s privatization push,” says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt. “And a clear signal that he’s moving ahead with plans to dismantle and sell off critical health care services one piece at a time.”

Allnutt disputes claims by health authorities that cost savings can be achieved without putting patient care at risk.

“Let’s be clear. Privatizing services in order to make up for huge government cuts can only be achieved by cutting wages and by reducing service quality,” he says.

Today’s move by the two health authorities is made possible by Bill 29 — a law passed earlier this year by the Campbell Liberals that tore up union contracts and opened the door to privatization, service cuts and hospital closures.

But Allnutt warned companies not to be too hasty in their rush to cash in on health care privatization. “When Bill 29 is struck down, through our legal challenge, there will be huge costs that neither health employers nor corporations will be able to insulate themselves from,” he says. “Anyone who seeks to profit or benefit from this draconian legislation does so at their peril.”

-30- Contact: Mike Old, communications officer, 604-456-7039 (direct) or 604-828-6771 (cell)