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Interior Health's hospital laundry contract raises concerns for NDP

A lucrative contract awarded this week to a major donor of B.C.'s Liberal Party to privatize laundry service for hospitals in the province's interior is raising concerns for the NDP.

NDP MLA Michelle Mungall says there was never a solid business case to privatize laundry

Laundry machines at Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops, B.C. will now sit idle after Ecotex was awarded a 20-year contract to do laundry at five Interior hospitals. (CBC)

The NDP is raising concerns about a lucrative contract awarded this week to a major donor of B.C.'s Liberal Party to privatize laundry service for hospitals in the province's Interior.

Laundry service company Ecotex will receive over $11 million per year for 20 years to clean linens from hospitals in Kamloops, Kelowna, Nelson, Penticton and Vernon.

The Seattle-based company, which has operations across the Western U.S. and Canada, has been a major donor to the Liberal party and individual Liberal candidates in the past — giving more than $125,000 over a 10-year period.

Interior Health was looking to save money by outsourcing its laundry departments.

But NDP MLA for Nelson-Creston, Michelle Mungall, said there was never a solid business case to privatize laundry in the first place.

"Interior Health has gone ahead and contracted out and it just so happens the company that was awarded the laundry contract for 20 years has been a significant donor to the B.C. Liberal Party," she said.

In an email, a spokesperson from the Interior Health Authority said, "All potential proponents are chosen based on qualifications and meeting the criteria — and it is a fair and entirely unbiased process."

Liberal party communications officer Jillian Stead also responded by saying, "B.C. has clear rules around political donations and we follow them."

While 93 unionized jobs were lost across the various hospitals, Ecotex said in a statement the contract will result in the creation of 90 to 100 new full-time, unionized jobs in the Okanagan.

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