Thumbs downto the BC government, for its vicious attack on virtually every public service in the province. The cost-cutting and privatization rampage is a direct attack on communities, as services are downloaded or simply abandoned. The Campbell governments proposed Community Charter has a centrepiece promise of no downloading to municipalities a promise thats clearly not worth the paper its drafted on.
Thumbs upto CUPE activists and allies across BC, for their Strong Communities campaign. The all-out attack by the Campbell government makes it more important than ever that people come together to deliver the message that the province doesnt have a mandate to privatize or decimate public services.
Thumbs downto the BC government, for ripping up health care and community social services workers contracts to pave the way for massive privatization and end hard-won parity between the social service and health care sectors. The government plans to close hospitals and eliminate 7,000 health care jobs while privatizing tens of thousands more. The plans spell danger for health care across the province, and will hit working women across the province especially hard. Another thumb downto the BC government, for repealing pay equity as one of its first acts in office, compounding the attack on women.
Thumbs downto the BC government, and the Fraser Health Authority, for their dangerous scheme to let private corporations finance, own and operate a new hospital in Abbotsford, and Thumbs upto members of CUPEs Hospital Employees Union for exposing the secret plans, and for the sustained pressure thats exposing every facet of this fatally flawed scheme.
Thumbs downto the BC government, for failing to guarantee public ownership and control of drinking water. The interim report of the governments drinking water review panel makes some good recommendations, but is silent on the importance of keeping water in public hands.
Thumbs downto the BC government, for ending a six-year tuition fee freeze. In February 2002, the government hiked tuition fees, and deregulated fees, letting institutions set their own fees. At the same time, the government cut operating grants, virtually assuring fees would rise, and conveniently shifting the blame to institutions. For years, BC had the second-lowest fees in Canada. Over the past decade, low fees had helped BCs participation rates for post-secondary education soar from second lowest to second highest among the provinces. The Campbell government has also cancelled first-year grants, a move that offloads $40 million onto students in the form of debt.
Thumbs downto BC Hydro, for privatizing key parts of its operation. The public utility is close to signing a deal with Accenture, handing over key customer, office and human resources services as well as elements of its business department. Formerly known as Andersen Consulting, Accentures dealings in Ontario (see above) should be a lesson for BC Hydro.
Thumbs upto the Greater Vancouver Regional District, for unanimously passing a motion opposing the provincial governments plans to extend the Agreement on Internal Trade to BC municipalities, academic institutions, social services and hospitals. Dozens of communities outside the GVRD have also voiced their opposition by passing similar motions. The AIT paves the way for privatization, mirroring the global trade agendas targets of public services and government regulations.
Thumbs upto the British Columbia Government Employees Union, for exposing the scandalous tactics of health care privateers, including Sodexho, in trying to blacklist members of the Hospital Employees Union. Private providers are moving to replace dedicated, experienced health care workers with a low wage, high-turnover work force. By taping conversations with corporate hucksters, the union exposed the cosy relations among the Campbell government, health authority officials and the companies anxious to profit from health care privatization.
Thumbs upto CUPE 399 and 1048 in Prince George, for shining a spotlight on the citys plans to privatize a range of services, endangering up to 130 jobs at a time when stable employment is key to the communitys future.
Thumbs upto the Town of Oliver, for deciding to keep its water management public. Municipal workers, members of CUPE 608, presented a watertight case for keeping water systems in-house.
Thumbs upto the City of Kamloops and to members of CUPE 900, for ending plans for a P3 water filtration plant. After dealing with multinational consultants and circulating a poll with questions loaded in favour of privatization, city council listened to the community and voted unanimously to keep the citys new filtration plant public.
Thumbs upto the Town of Ladysmith, for rejecting contracted out water meter work that would have propped open the door for further privatization. A brief from the town employees, members of CUPE 401, reminded council we chose public ownership of our water 100 years ago because we trusted public ownershipand it worked.
Thumbs down and then upto the Greater Vancouver Regional District, for deciding to privatize the operation of a major new filtration plant despite lacking evidence the P3 would produce any savings. The GVRD tried to bypass any public consultation, but massive public pressure forced pro-privatization regional officials to changed their minds. The fear that trade deals would rob the GVRD of control over water helped seal the P3s fate. While the Seymour filtration plant will now be a public project, Vancouver area residents remain vigilant.