Hospital laundry workers set to lose jobs say Sudbury will be 'paying the price'

Officials with Health Sciences North in Sudbury, Ont., are defending their decision to move laundry cleaning services for the hospital from Sudbury to another company in Hamilton, laying off 40 people in the process.

Health Sciences North claims hospital will save $500K per year by moving cleaning services to Hamilton

Nicole Mallette (left) and Gisele Dawson (right) are two laundry workers in Sudbury, Ont., who are slated to lose their jobs in 2017. (CBC)
Health Sciences North says will save half a million dollars each year by switching laundry service providers, but it also means laying off 40 people. Laundry worker Gisele Dawson spoke about the decision with the CBC's Olivia Stefanovich.
Officials with Health Sciences North in Sudbury, Ont., are defending their decision to move laundry cleaning services for the hospital from Sudbury to another company in Hamilton, laying off almost 40 people in the process.

The hospital has maintained the move will save $500,000 each year.

But the employees who are losing their jobs argue that the savings are being found in the wrong way, and that service will suffer.

"We were blindsided," said Gisele Dawson, a laundry worker for more than 20 years, who told CBC News she was getting ready to enter routine contract negotiations last month with Health Sciences North, when she was suddenly given a layoff notice.

Health Sciences North is discontinuing its laundry cleaning contract with Sudbury Hospital Services to work with Mohawk Supply Services out of Hamilton.

That means linens will have to be shipped south for cleaning, then returned to the northeast — something that Dawson said makes no sense.

"This is our work. It shouldn't be going to the south," she said. "They're bleeding out enough jobs in Sudbury."

"Why do they have to take these? To us, we've lost faith. We've lost trust in our community hospital."

Dollar figure too large to ignore: hospital

Officials at Sudbury's hospital have maintained that the decision to switch contractors was not an easy one, and is not a reflection of the management or employees of Sudbury Hospital Services.

Saving half a million dollars is just something the facility can't ignore, said hospital spokesperson Dan Lessard.

"Those are significant savings and that's money that we can put back into patient care," he said.

In an open letter to the community, the hospital said the decision came down to doing what's best for patients.

"We have a duty to maintain and even advance the care we offer with the resources we have. With that responsibility in mind, we simply cannot overlook the half-million dollars we will save each year for clean laundry," the letter read.
Health Sciences North is moving its laundry cleaning services from a Sudbury-based company to one in Hamilton, Ont. (Yvon Theriault/Radio-Canada)

The switch's effect on patients is part of what worries Dawson and her colleagues, she said, adding that using a cleaning company hundreds of kilometres away will mean things like fewer personal linen inspections, and the potential for cloths to be returned stained.

"At the end of the day Sudbury's going to be the one paying the price, the community," she said.

That's something that Lessard said the hospital doesn't believe will be an issue.

The employees are expected to be laid off by March 31, 2017.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?