EDMONTON Paul Martin has repeated his often-promised pledge to increase funding to cities and towns but the big winners are likely to be big business, says the union that represents municipal workers across Canada.
If we can believe the Liberals, more money will flow to cities and towns, said Paul Moist, National President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees. But the Liberals have said the money for transit and water and roads should be tied to so-called public private partnerships that put corporations in the drivers seat, assuring them huge profits, while leave communities to pay higher costs.
Moist was reacting to the latest plank in the Liberal party platform, announced this morning in Edmonton by Prime Minister Paul Martin, speaking to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
Martin talks about support to communities, but the fact is that his government has been forcing municipalities into joint ventures with the corporate sector, even when that leads to higher costs and less local control, said Moist.
If he were serious about treating municipalities as full partners he wouldnt be making it a condition of funding that they go to the private sector to finance, manage and operate services that municipalities can run better and more cheaply themselves.
Martin repeated his pledge to provide cities with a share of the gas tax, promising that by the time of the next federal election, they would receive five cents per litre tax . He also promised more funding for housing. Again, much of this funding is conditional on provincial participation or public private partnerships (P3s).
Our cities and towns have the knowledge and the experience to offer top quality services. What theyve been lacking is the resources. To promise funds but tie them to creating opportunities for big business to make big profits isnt what our cities need.
Summing up his reaction to the announcement, Moist said, Its pretty thin for a key plank in the Martin platform.
CUPE is Canadas largest union, representing 120,000 municipal workers among its half-million members.
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Paul Moist, CUPE National President, (613) 558-2873 (cell.)
Robert Fox, CUPE Communications, (613) 795-4977 (cell.)