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NORTH BAY, ON – Speakers at a public meeting highlighted evidence that privatizing through so-called public-private partnerships (P3s) costs more than public projects, is less transparent and accountable, and damages vital public services.

“The North Bay Regional Health Centre shows P3s are expensive and risky. Private financing for this hospital is about $7 million a year more than public financing. High P3 costs have already led to layoffs and bed closures, just four years after the hospital opened. This isn’t an isolated incident – the provincial auditor has found P3s cost the public $8 billion more than public projects over the last decade. P3s are bleeding money away from public services,” said CUPE Senior Economist Toby Sanger.

The forum is being held as the city considers redeveloping its municipal long-term care facility, Cassellholme, and will zero in on the dangers of P3s for long-term care.

“Protecting public, non-profit long-term care is about who we are as Canadians. We need to put more – not less – into caring for vulnerable, aging people. We need to improve access to care and reduce wait times in Northern Ontario and province-wide. Public, non-profit care is central to our solutions,” said Natalie Mehra, Ontario Health Coalition Executive Director.

Moderator Henri Giroux has worked as a cook for the last 37 years at Cassellholme. He said protecting public long-term care facilities is the first step in much-needed improvements to seniors’ care, including a guaranteed minimum standard of four hours of one-on-one personal care for every resident, every day. Giroux is also president of the North Bay and District Labour Council.

There’s growing grassroots resistance to privatizing public services and facilities, said CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn. “Community after community is saying ‘no’ to privatization – we’re seeing it with the fight to stop the sell-off of Hydro One. We’ve learned some expensive lessons from provincial Liberal P3 schemes, and people don’t buy the argument that there is no alternative to cutbacks and privatization.”

The federal election could be a turning point for public services in Canada, said CUPE National President Paul Moist.

“P3s aren’t about what’s best and most cost-effective for a community,” said Moist. “They’re about politics and profit, pure and simple. That’s no way to run a seniors’ home – or any public service. The push to privatize starts at the federal level, with the Harper Conservatives pushing P3s. On October 19, we can stop this terrible public policy by sending a New Democratic government to Ottawa.”

CUPE is Canada’s community union, with more than 633,000 members. In Ontario, CUPE’s 250,000 members provide quality public services we all rely on, in every part of the province, every day.

For more information:

Karin Jordan
CUPE Communications

Henri Giroux
President, CUPE North Bay and District Labour Council