Since the implementation of Medicare across Canada, all Canadians have benefitted from a universal, not-for-profit public health care system.

Polling shows that an overwhelming number of Canadians supports public health care, but despite this support, public health care is under attack by for-profit corporations looking to make money off our most vital public services.

In the Wall government’s first term, they denied any suggestion that they would privatize any aspect of public health care. But we are seeing more and more privatization creep into the public health care system. From user-pay MRI and CT scans to a P3 hospital to the contracting out of important hospital services such as laundry, the Saskatchewan government is putting profit before people in health care.

We need to invest in public health care. Learn more about CUPE National’s campaign to restore the Health Accord funding.

SAVE OUR HEALTH CARE - Keep Health Care Public!

PRINCE ALBERT: Workers laid off from Saskatchewan’s public laundry facilities last fall are concerned that laundry services now provided by the private company K-Bro Linen are inadequate.

Monday’s Leader-Post article, “Sharps and debris found in hospital laundry lead to staff safety concerns” confirmed these workers’ fears about the quality of laundry services being provided to hospitals and nursing homes under the privatized model.

These public employees, laid off when Edmonton-based company K-Bro Linen was granted a province-wide monopoly on health care laundry services, say they were disappointed but not surprised to hear that processed laundry has been returned with sharps and other debris in it.

According to Anita Labossiere, who worked at North Sask Laundry in Prince Albert until it closed last fall, “North Sask Laundry had systems in place to make sure any instruments, needles, equipment, and biological materials were removed before the washing process. Linen was also inspected after cleaning and before it was shipped back to health facilities.”
Mira Lewis, former union representative at North Sask Laundry, points to one significant change that she says explains the recent issues: sorting.

“North Sask Laundry employed sorters, who would separate heavily soiled linens from lightly soiled linens so that biological materials and other debris could be removed before washing,” Lewis said. “Under K-Bro’s system, it appears this sorting no longer happens.

“The kinds of problems being reported today would never have happened at North Sask,” she added.

CUPE Local 5999 President Sandra Seitz, herself a former laundry worker at Souris Valley in Sun Country Health Region, reports that since K-Bro took over the contract for laundry services, CUPE has been documenting reports of quality, delivery, and safety issues arising with processed laundry handled by K-Bro.

“We’ve seen the quality of the laundry handling deteriorate over the past year,” said Seitz. “We’ve also heard concerns from the public regarding quality issues with the laundry within Sun Country facilities.”

Meanwhile, in its last annual report, K-Bro reported a 15.6% increase in total shareholder return. Anita Labossiere, Mira Lewis, and Sandra Seitz can all be reached for comment.