The Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre could be affected by cuts to Alberta Health Services announced by the government Tuesday. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

David Marsden: Yes, we know how to do laundry

Union leaders would have us believe there’s something special about their members: that ordinary people aren’t capable of doing laundry.

They suggest that even if we were provided with heavier equipment than we have in our homes, along with training and supervision, we would be unable to do a task performed by a machine.

The hospital bed sheets and other fabrics of patients and staff in Calgary and Edmonton are already cleaned by people who aren’t on the government payroll, without any suggestion they aren’t up to the job.

Try telling somebody in Red Deer who is sent to one of Alberta’s biggest cities for life-saving care that they shouldn’t go because the sheets aren’t clean. In fact, two-thirds of the hospital laundry in the province is done by people just like you and me.

The suggestion that non-union members can’t do laundry is silly.

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In many regards, the health-care system is already privatized. Doctors work for themselves, and simply bill the health-care system for their services. Surgeries for disorders such as cataracts are performed at private clinics and the cost is picked up by the taxpayer.

Alberta Health Services recently announced it is outsourcing up to 11,000 jobs, with the expectation of saving up to $600 million a year.

When the laundry positions are transferred to more efficient private operators, many of the people will still be employed. This talk of job losses by the union is nonsense.

The transfer simply means they may not have the gold-plated pension plan they previously enjoyed, or as many sick days. In other words, they’ll become like most Albertans.

There are few people who have not been touched by changing times. Whether it’s an oilfield worker who has been cut adrift, a restaurant owner who has had to give up his dream of nourishing Red Deerians, or a young professional who can’t land her first job, thousands have suffered and had to re-imagine their future.

There is no fuss created when people in the private sector are forced to start over again. This week’s announcement of a merger between Cenovus Energy and Husky Energy, for instance, is expected to lead to hundreds of job losses, but there is no marching in the street, as there was outside the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre on Monday.

The United Conservative government came to power to 2019 with a promise of making matters better. It has had little success in creating jobs in the private sector, which will be a sore spot in the election to come.

Reducing expenses, however, is something the government can do.

We practise the same common sense in our day-to-day lives.

We don’t pay more than necessary for products such as toothpaste, or a service such as washing our car, assuming the quality is equal.

Everyone looks for a fair and reasonable price.

We should expect no less from our provincial government, especially when it is spending our money, including the tax dollars of the respected people who clean our hospital bed sheets.

David Marsden is managing editor of the Red Deer Advocate.

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