The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees says there is a push to privatize hospital laundry services across the rural part of the province.

AUPE says on Monday (Feb. 10) it received written notice from Alberta Health Services of the plan.

Some of the communities mentioned by AHS include Claresholm, High River, and Strathmore, however union Vice-President Susan Slade says larger centres including Lethbridge will be impacted as well.

“This has been a rumour for a while they (UCP government) were going to do this,” says Slade. “This was part of Jason Kenney’s campaign, but it still doesn’t make it right. Approximately, between Lethbridge and Medicine Hat, it is 60 full-time equivalencies”.

Slade says into total, the privatization of laundry will affect 275 workers in 54 Alberta communities.

She says when you add Oyen, Claresholm, Okotoks, and High River to the list, it would account for around 70 to 80 lost jobs in southern Alberta.

“When a public service is privatized, we know good jobs turn into low-wage gigs, and it costs more in the long run. We know this from the failure of laundry privatization in Saskatchewan and British Columbia,” adds Slade.

A news release this week from the union says in the letter notifying AUPE of the plan to contract-out laundry facilities, AHS says its primary rationale is related to the need to spend $35 million to $40 million to update infrastructure.

Slade says AUPE members have fought against laundry privatization before and will do so again.