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A United Conservative government would save Alberta taxpayers the $200 million replacement cost of laundry service equipment by proceeding with AHS’ plan to contract out laundry service.
In 2013, the Saskatchewan government faced the same situation as Alberta. Rather than government building and running laundry facilities with government employees like was done in Alberta, Saskatchewan chose to proceed with a competitive bidding process to find a private contractor that could provide the needed service at much lower cost.
In July of 2013, the Saskatchewan government announced a 10 year contract had been signed with a private laundry service company that would ultimately save their taxpayers close to $100 million over the life of the contract.1
It was a common sense decision in the best interests of the province and it’s why a United Conservative government would do the same.
Shortly after the NDP took power in 2015, Alberta Health Services (AHS) expressed concerns how bed sheets, gowns, and surgical clothing provided by government-run facilities were failing to meet top sanitary standards. Problems at the government-run facilities included aging equipment and breakdowns.
An Edmonton Journal exposé noted how “Medicine Hat has been one of the most troublesome facilities, with a 4½-month shutdown of its old ironing system, a sewer line collapse, daily power supply issues and a roof leak that destroyed the electronics of the cart wash system.”
The Journal also noted how such government-run facilities were a danger to workers, with “the linen services department posted a disabling injury rate of 12.06 as of January , well above the AHS average rate of 3.01.”2
AHS was concerned about the estimated $200 million replacement cost of the equipment.3
Rather than spend more tax dollars for inferior service, the health authority planned to shift AHS facilities to private providers.
AHS recommended the following to Health Minister Sarah Hoffman in a June 2015 briefing note: “AHS has reached a critical point where the only viable option for sustaining linen services that are core to patient care is to work with our existing (private) linen contract provider and transition AHS facilities to them as effectively as possible.”2
AHS also pointed out that Saskatchewan, Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia all outsourced linen and laundry services.
NDP Health Minister Sarah Hoffman rejected the AHS recommendation for safer, higher-quality, cost-saving laundry services in late 2015. At the time, the NDP government’s plan to buy more laundry equipment was estimated to cost up to $200 million by AHS.2
- Colin Craig, “Saskatchewan’s clean hospital sheets offer a lesson for Alberta,” Regina Leader-Post, September 15, 2016
- Keith Gerein, “AHS Bid to Save Millions Denied: NDP Scuttles Plan to Privatize Laundry Service,” Edmonton Journal, August 17, 2016 http://www.pressreader.com/canada/calgary-herald/20160817/281487865754076
CBC News, “AHS Laundry Privatization Stopped after Sarah Hoffman Intervenes,” August 17, 2016, https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/alberta-health-minister-intervenes-in-laundry-services-1.3725703