By ALEX McCUAIG Special to the News on April 28, 2021.
The battle to retain the city hospital’s in-house laundry service – and the jobs which came with it – appears to be coming to end with Alberta Health Services announcing its private contractor Tuesday.
“It was a foregone conclusion,” said Avril Torrance, co-chair of the Palliser chapter of the Friends of Medicare, of the fight to retain linen services at the hospital over the past decade.
K-Bro Linen Systems was awarded the contract, according to a release from AHS, but no dollar amount was attached to the deal.
“The former government’s opposition to contracting with a company to wash laundry would have cost taxpayers over $100 million,” Alberta Heath Minister Tyler Shandro said in a statement. “Fortunately, that will not happen under this government.”
However, that statement appears to contradict the UCP government’s own commissioned report on a review of health spending in the province.
The Ernst and Young report released in 2019 pegged savings from contracting laundry, security, food, translation, interpretation and non-emergency transportation services collectively at between $100 million and $140 million.
Torrence says it’s an example of the inability of AHS to provide transparency with its spending, which she argues doesn’t provide fiscal accountability to the public for health spending or whether any tax dollars will be actually saved.
“We will never see the cost savings that they talk about because the government is so opaque and lacking in accountability that we never actually get to see the dollars and cents in any real way,” said Torrance.
According to the Alberta Union of Public Employees, jobs will be lost in the Medicine Hat area due to the closure, and it anticipates services will be based out of either Edmonton or Calgary.