Delay in laundry proposal

Another delay will have laundry workers waiting on the future of in-house services in Interior hospitals.

Another delay will have laundry workers waiting on the future of in-house services in Interior hospitals.

Chris Mazurkewich, President and CEO for Interior Health, issued a statement on Nov. 25 announcing the latest delay.

“As the new president and CEO of Interior Health, I plan to take additional time in reviewing the future of our laundry services. Subsequently a decision on the possibility of outsourcing the service will not occur until at least March 2016, when recommendations are presented to the IH board of directors for its consideration,” Mazurkewich said in a press release.

“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.”

The delay is “welcome news” to the Hospital Employees Union (HEU), who had workers taking to the streets around the Interior including Penticton in October.

There are 17 jobs on the line in Penticton that would be lost if laundry services were contracted out to private companies as the IHA proposed when it started seeking bids from the private sector last year.

“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.”

The decision has been delayed several times since the announcement seeking bids from private companies to take over laundry operations in Kelowna, Vernon, Kamloops, Penticton, Nelson and six smaller communities.

The delay also comes off the heels of a review of the business case for privatization by a Simon Fraser University economist.

Dr. Marvin Shaffer reviewed found there was no “business case” for privatization after reviewing two documents obtained through a Freedom of Information request.

In the documents originating in 2010, the IHA said outsourcing laundry would yield savings compared to in-house services, while according to Shaffer, no valid financial analysis of these options was provided.

The IHA said there was no one available to speak to the media at this time after providing the statement from Mazurkewich.