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Zap! The Canadian Council for Public Private Partnerships didn’t know what had hit them until after it had happened. Tuesday morning the CCPPP and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce had invited business leaders and the media to a breakfast briefing at the Ontario Club on Bay Street. New Brunswick’s ex-premier Frank McKenna was the guest speaker. His topic? The wonders of “public private partnerships”.

So CUPE rented the Ontario Club’s media room and held its own news conference down the hall.

The result? The headline in the Toronto Star read “CUPE slams joint ventures.” Challenging the sales job by the CCPPP and McKenna, National President Judy Darcy released CUPE’s own report showing that PPPs are bad for citizens and taxpayers, endangering the quality of essential public services like water, health care, education and transportation.

Calling McKenna a “poster boy for PPPs”, Darcy said: “Ex-premier McKenna should know better than most what a dismal failure PPPs have been. Because when Mr. McKenna was premier of New Brunswick he initiated several PPPs that failed, costing taxpayers millions of dollars and undermining the quality of public services.”

To back up her charges, Darcy cited the New Brunswick experience with PPPs that have failed in the health, social services and justice sectors. As well, she condemned the privatization of the Trans-Canada highway and the impact of lease-back schools.

“There are many reasons why Canadians oppose PPPs. First and foremost are concerns about quality, access and safety,” said Darcy.

“Public private partnerships are promoted as an innovative approach to the delivery of public services. The private sector claims they can deliver public services more efficiently and at less cost to the taxpayer.

“This is completely untrue. These schemes do not reduce costs. In fact, they end up costing taxpayers more while cutting services and fudging accountability.

“The real objective of the private sector in taking over public services is to secure a very profitable monopoly for themselves,” added Darcy.

CUPE is committed to the provision of quality public services. For this to happen, governments must make a commitment to proper funding and staffing. Handing over lucrative contracts to their friends in the private sector won’t create jobs or improve quality,” concluded Darcy.

Copies of the CUPE Power Tool Behind the Pretty Packaging - Exposing Public Private Partnerships will be mailed to locals in the next general mailing. Multiple copies can be ordered from the Stockroom. As well, you can download a copy of the Power Tool from the CUPE Web site (www.cupe.ca). Click under Private Public Partnerships in the section on Fighting Privatization.

As well, a Power Tool on lease-back schools entitled “Public Interest vs Private Profits - The Threat of Lease-back Schools” will be distributed in the October general mailing.