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CCPA report based on Probe Research survey released at Winnipeg press conference

A Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) report released today reveals that two out of three Manitobans think that the privatization of Manitoba Hydro should be debated during the provincial election this fall, and nine out of ten Manitobans think Manitoba Hydro should remain a Crown Corporation.

Representatives from six unions jointly released the report that stems from a May 2011 Probe Research survey commissioned by CUPE. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP), International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE), Telecommunications Employees Association of Manitoba (TEAM) and the Society of Energy Professionals (SEP) joined CUPE National President Paul Moist and CUPE Local 998 President Mark Hadder to release Power Struggle: Manitoba Hydro and the Spectre of Privatization.

 “The findings of this report make it clear that Manitobans derive great benefit from Manitoba being a Crown corporation,” said CCPA researcher Lynne Fernandez. “It needs to be protected and maintained.”

Privatization is a sensitive issue in Manitoba due to the contentious sale of the publicly-owned Manitoba Telephone System in the 1990’s by the Conservative Filmon government of which the current Conservative leader was a senior political advisor. It was with this in mind that delegates who attended the CUPE Manitoba Convention in April voted unanimously to encourage CUPE to campaign against any perceived threats of privatization.

The CCPA report highlights that under its current structure, Manitoba Hydro is able to:

  • Attract businesses and workers to Manitoba by providing the lowest electricity rates and the most reliable power in North America;
  • Provide Manitobans with export revenues that pay for important services like health care and education;
  • Provide opportunities to First Nations communities;
  • Continue developing leading edge technologies that remain a public asset.

The study also found that in other provinces where power utilities were privatized, customers were faced with:

  • Soaring residential electricity rates;
  • The elimination of the “obligation to serve” that has created conditions for price volatility and less reliable power;
  • The elimination of local decision making.

CUPE, IBEW and the CEP, along with support from the IFPTE and TEAM have launched a billboard campaign around Winnipeg urging voters to challenge their political leaders to state clearly their vision for Manitoba Hydro during the election.  The campaign will expand to include radio and print ads across the province in the coming weeks.


News articles on the anti-privatization campaign:

  • Union leaders warn against privatization of Manitoba Hydro as election looms (Winnipeg free Press, June 27, 2011)
  • Hydro sell-off hot campaign issue: NDP, Tories bickering over privatization (Winnipeg Free Press, June 25, 2011)