CUPE NL President Wayne Lucas says a leaked document that shows the Ball government is considering the wholesale privatization of public services is both a stunning betrayal of Liberal election promises as well as a five-alarm fire for the public sector.

Lucas says, “It was only last Friday, February 12, that myself and other labour leaders sat in a room with Finance Minister Cathy Bennett to talk about the provincial budget, and not a single word was said to us about what sounds like a potentially massive restructuring and selloff of public services.”

“So did the minister not know about these plans last Friday, or was she being dishonest with us?” asks Lucas.

“The minister has suggested that these directives to government departments and agencies are simply to ‘provoke bold thinking’. I would suggest that potentially cutting or converting all manner of public services through public-private partnerships (P3s), so-called alternate service delivery (ASD), contracting out and more amounts to a potential disaster in the making,” says Lucas.

“I would strongly suggest that Minister Bennett ask Nova Scotia about their experience with P3s, where taxpayers just spent close to $800 million to lease 39 schools for 20 years, and they still don’t own the schools.”

“The P3 toll highway in that province called the Cobequid Pass saw a private company invest $66 million to build 18 km. of twinned highway and get a return on investment of 250 per cent, while drivers have had to pay $300 million in tolls since it was built,” says Lucas.