AHS pushing to privatize hospital laundry across rural Alberta

EDMONTON – AUPE received written notice today from Alberta Health Services (AHS) of its “contracting out initiative” of all hospital laundry services outside Edmonton and Calgary.

An “anticipated timeframe” included sending out a Request for Proposals (RFP) in May and the awarding of a contract for November 2020.

“Rural communities are already suffering from an economy that continues to struggle,” said AUPE Vice-President Susan Slade. “The privatization of laundry will affect 275 workers – and their families – in 54 communities.”

Some of the communities listed by AHS include Athabasca, Barrhead, Canmore, Claresholm, Cold Lake, Devon, Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie, High River, Ponoka, and Strathmore. Larger centres including Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Red Deer will also be impacted.

“When a public service is privatized, we know good jobs turn into low-wage gigs, and it costs more in the long run,” added Slade.

“We know this from the failure of laundry privatization in Saskatchewan and British Columbia.”

In the letter notifying AUPE of the plan to contract-out laundry facilities, AHS says its primary rationale is related to the need to spend $35 million to $40 million to update infrastructure.

“This is just one more way for this government to hand over our money and assets to already wealthy corporate interests,” says Slade.

“Our members have fought against laundry privatization before. Today is no different. We’re gathering our strength, and we’re planning to take action to fight back in our communities.”

-Steve Buissinne photo

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