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And they remain skeptical of Public Private Partnerships

Calgary More than three quarters of Albertans are in favour of keeping their services public says a recent survey of public opinion in Alberta. And, support for keeping essential public services in public hands is overwhelming with 84 per cent for education, 82 per cent for health care and 81 per cent for water treatment.

These results provide a useful reminder to the government of Alberta that the core values of Albertans remain solidly behind public services and public service delivery, said CUPE Alberta President Bruce McLeod. Given the Alberta governments stated intention to privatize more health care services coupled with budget cuts being faced by school boards across the province, we thought it was important to take a look at public opinion at this time, he said.

The poll of 800 Alberta residents was conducted on behalf of the Canadian Union of Public Employees by Strategic Communications Inc. to measure public attitudes in Alberta toward public services and public service delivery.

Nine out of ten people in this province know that good public services are important to the quality of life in their communities. And, over two-thirds say that public employees work hard and could do a better job with more resources and more staff, said McLeod.

Right now we are dealing with the fall-out of legislation that threatens the collective bargaining rights of health care employees. At the end of the day, the power the government has given itself with Bill 27 is a clear indication that they want to contract-out health care workers jobs. Yet this is not the direction the people of Alberta want, said McLeod.

At the same time, the Alberta Government plans to introduce PPPs to finance more public infrastructure. And, the uncertainty with which Albertans recent announcements by the government that they intend to finance public services through public-private partnerships is especially significant, he added.

The results on public-private partnerships show that people in Alberta are divided on the issue. But when asked if PPPs are a bad deal for taxpayers, a clear majority of Albertans agree. Similarly, when asked if PPPs threaten public access and accountability a majority of Albertans agree.

What this survey seems to indicate is that the public does not mind using the private sector to build public facilities, but when it comes to owning and operating, there is a great deal of opposition. Albertans value public services and public service workers because they know the value and importance of good public services to the economy and to their communities, said McLeod.

This evening CUPE Alberta is sponsoring a public forum on public private partnerships, Building Alberta community services The case for public investment and public accountability at 7:00 p.m. at Fort Calgary.

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CUPE is Canada’s largest union with over half a million women and men who provide public services. In Alberta, CUPEs 32,000 members work in health care, municipalities, schools, colleges, universities, libraries, emergency medical services, social services and casinos. Visit our CUPE websites for more information www.cupe.ca and www.cupealberta.ab.ca

For further information and copies of the survey results:
Pam Beattie CUPE Communications (780) 288-1230 (cellular)
Bruce McLeod CUPE Alberta President (403) 818-4849 (cellular)