Formal FOI appeal launched to
force release of laundry privatization deal
First they turned to the courts to compel
the Fraser Health Authority to open its board meetings to area
residents. Now the Hospital Employees Union is appealing to BC's
freedom of information commissioner to force the FHA to make public the
full details of a controversial 10-year laundry privatization contract.
HEU spokesperson Zorica Bosancic says a
formal appeal has been lodged with the office of information and
privacy commissioner David Loukidelis because the health authority
formally rebuffed the union's efforts to end the web of secrecy around
the arrangement. HEU had first made a request under the Freedom of
Information and Protection of Privacy Act in January in an effort to
make the details of the problem-plagued deal public.
"This level of secrecy and lack of
openness and accountability from a public health authority is
unacceptable," says Bosancic. "What have they got to hide?"
Bosancic challenges the FHA to release the
contract that involves shipping dirty laundry from Fraser Valley hospitals to the Calgary plant of U.S.-controlled
K-Bro Linen Systems. She says it's in the public interest to allow for
outside scrutiny and independent analysis of cost saving claims and
"If the deal has tough performance
guarantees that safeguard quality service as the FHA claims, then prove
it by making the document public," she says. "In terms of cost savings,
let's allow for an outside review to see if the numbers really add up.
Bosancic says that existing freedom of
information precedents covering similar contracts between public bodies
like hospitals and private companies are already very clear. "At the
end of the day, we will be successful in making the contract public. We
expect though that the FHA could stall the process for as much as 18
months through procedural delays, which would obviously be counter to
the public interest."
Bosancic says her union has filed a
separate FOI request for the recent privatized security contract
between the FHA and Intercon Security, which is a subsidiary of a