Members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) local held a barbecue last week to call attention to what they say is a disturbing trend in Saskatchewan health care.
In June, the provincial government finalized plans to centralize laundry services resulting in the elimination of 21 full-time equivalent jobs affecting 43 people in the Yorkton area.
Tom Graham, CUPE Saskatchewan president, said the event was not just about the laundry jobs.
“We fear it’s the tip of the iceberg,” he said. “We fear the provincial government intends to do a lot more privatization in health care.”
Yorkton MLA Greg Ottenbreit said those fears are unfounded.
“I think they’re making more out of it than it really is,” he said.
Ottenbreit said the decision was taken because laundry facilities in Saskatoon, Regina and Yorkton were coming to the end of their useful lives. The Province was looking at a $30 million investment to upgrade the plants while they expect to save $9.3 million per year by turning the service over to the private company 3sHealth, the MLA said.
“As much as I’d like to see the service stay here, the reality is with savings like that, is it better to spend that money on laundry or improving health services?”
Graham isn’t buying that explanation.
“We’re very concerned about what’s next,” he said. “It’s being done on the premise of efficiency, but we don’t accept the idea it’s cheaper.”