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The Conference Board on P3s: Biased and superficial

In late January, the Conference Board of Canada published an astoundingly biased report entitled Dispelling the Myths.  The study purports to show Canadian public-private partnerships (P3s) have delivered efficiency gains for the public sector, a high degree of cost certainty, and greater transparency than conventional procurement.

The report takes “value for money” reports produced by provincial P3 promotion agencies at face value, ignores recent critical reports by auditors general, sets up biased comparisons in its case studies, misinterprets evidence and includes no substantial analysis to support its claims.

CUPE has found many problems with the Conference Board report, and has produced a counter-report debunking its pro-P3 claims.

To read more, visit: http://cupe.ca/privatization/a4b7d9ee205f4d

The Stan Little Building: A virtual tour

Take a virtual guided tour of CUPE’s headquarters in Ottawa, and learn how it - and all CUPE’s new homes - reflects our shared values.

Through a combination of 3D animation and live action HD video, this informative tour of CUPE’s national headquarters in Ottawa highlights some of the details that earned Gold Certification for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

After watching the video, you can find out more about the building, the art collection, and CUPE’s building projects across Canada.

To view the video: http://cupe.ca/stan-little-building/

Haiti: The decisive battle

CUPE National Secretary-Treasurer Claude Généreux sent an open letter this week to major newspapers regarding the reconstruction of Haiti.  The following is an extract from the letter.

Everyone is talking a lot about the “reconstruction”, but how did people live in this country before the fateful January 12?  The unemployment rate hovered around 70% and a similar percentage of Haitians struggled to survive on less than one dollar per day.  Since NGOs operated 92% of the schools and 70% of health care, and considering the total lack of any earthquake-proofing standards for buildings, one might well ask if a Haitian state even existed. (…)

The decisive battle for the dignity of the Haitian people is now getting under way.  It will be lost unless there is an ambitious plan for building both physical and social infrastructures worthy of a 21st century country.  This means water mains, sewers, electricity, schools, hospitals, public transportation, agricultural self-sufficiency, etc.  It will be through the massive edification of the public services, under the aegis of a national-unity government, that true democratic life and independence for Haiti will find their true meaning.

Economist Hugh Mackenzie analyzes Toronto budget

Toronto’s budget planning has been a yearly drama ever since amalgamation, with a structural deficit created by provincial downloading, a shortfall in provincial funding for provincially-mandated services, and the City’s own decision to freeze taxes for three years following amalgamation.

That’s the reality laid out in a new paper by economist Hugh Mackenzie, commissioned by the Toronto Civic Employees Union (TCEU) Local 416, CUPE.

Mackenzie takes on the “explanations” of and “solutions” for Toronto’s budget crunch coming from City critics like the Toronto Board of Trade.

The services Toronto requires to function as Canada’s biggest and most diverse city aren’t free, and unless the tooth fairy turns up looking for work, that means individual Torontonians and the businesses that thrive here will have to pay higher taxes,” said Mackenzie.

TCEU Local 416 President Mark Ferguson said the union will be presenting its recommendations on some of the City’s problems and possible efficiencies during public budget hearings in early March.

NB school board workers protest P3 schools

Armed with fresh evidence from Nova Scotia’s auditor general, New Brunswick school board workers continue to fight two P3 schools.

At a recent rally, CUPE 824 and CUPE 1253 members burned fake money outside a Moncton school under construction to drive home their message: privatizing schools sends public funds up in smoke.  The P3 also threatens community-supporting jobs.
Earlier this month, Nova Scotia’s auditor general revealed that problems with the province’s 31 P3 school contracts are costing taxpayers millions.

“We want schools that are owned by the taxpayers of New Brunswick, not schools that are owned by multinational corporations and are simply leased back over 30 years,” said CUPE New Brunswick president Danny Légère.

Labour Board takes right of Health Care Workers to choose union

A decision issued this week by the Alberta Labour Relations Board denies over 2,000 CUPE members the ability to be represented by the union of their choice.

The decision moves health care support workers in southern Alberta, currently members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), into a province-wide union with other support workers represented by the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees.  The decision also moves about 1,000 paramedics into a bargaining unit of technicians and lab workers represented by the Health Science Association of Alberta.

“I’m angered that the Conservative government and the Labour Board seem not to care about basic freedom of association we have under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” said Dennis Mol, president of CUPE Alberta.  “CUPE will use all legal means at our disposal to fight this decision.”

Supporters rally to defend Insite from Feds

More than 150 people rallied on last week in support of Insite, North America’s only supervised injection site.  The crowd included members of CUPE 1004 and CUPE 15, community residents, patients, and the general public who sent a message to Stephen Harper that “Insite saves lives.”

The impromptu rally was called to protest the prime minister’s call for a Supreme Court of Canada ruling on who has jurisdiction over Insite – the provincial or federal government. 
The Harper Conservatives have been trying to close the doors on this community health initiative for four years.  Both the initial BC Supreme Court and the BC Court of Appeals hearings, which ruled in favour of Insite, confirmed that the federal government did not have the jurisdiction.

“Neighbourhood residents, workers who provide community health services, and the provincial government all support Insite,” says CUPE National President Paul Moist.  “It’s time for the prime minister to put personal ideology aside and listen to the hard scientific evidence that supports the need for a service like Insite in this community.”

Trash can wars in Québec City: The campaign rolls on

Québec City’s outside workers are continuing their ad campaign to inform the public about the consequences of the 100% privatisation of domestic garbage collection.  For the second phase of this campaign, beginning at 6:30 a.m. on Monday, February 15, the blue-collar workers took to the streets to hand out their flyers.

Throughout the week, no fewer than 100,000 flyers were distributed, primarily by mail, to residences and businesses in the area of the old City of Québec.

In addition, since Wednesday, February 17, Québec City’s blue-collar workers have been broadcasting a second radio ad.

They believe that the privatisation issue is a matter of public interest because, in their view, without its own service the City will no longer be in a position to assess the fair value of submissions from the private sector nor to evaluate and control the costs.  Should it happen, transferring this service to the private sector will inevitably cause the price to increase to the taxpayer’s detriment.

:te/cope 491