BURNABY — When BC Premier Gordon Campbell makes his statement this evening CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill will be watching for something new that truly meets the needs of working British Columbians, but he is not holding his breath.
“I am very concerned that the Campbell Liberals will cynically use the current economic crisis to hand more power and more public money to corporations, and to even further reduce governments’ ability to regulate,” says O’Neill.
The premier has talked about accelerating capital projects and focus on implementation of the Trade Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) between Alberta and British Columbia.
“The evidence on TILMA makes it pretty clear that it is basically a Bill of Rights for corporations – and not just an agreement about trade and labour mobility. I don’t think most British Columbians would see this as a responsible way to deal with the fallout from the corporate excesses we are witnessing,” says CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill.
And O’Neill is also concerned that Campbell’s capital plan will push further privatization – through public-private partnerships or P3s. “It would be nothing short of reckless to promote more private finance and more private control of things like water and sewer services, schools, hospitals and community facilities, given the increasing instability of financial markets and corporations.”
O’Neill hopes to see a focus on real issues for working people. “Income inequality is growing in B.C. How about lifting the seven-year pay freeze for minimum-wage workers trying to live on $8 an hour? How about supporting a public child care initiative? How about focusing on the fact that B.C. has had the highest rate of child poverty in Canada four years running?”
“I think people are very concerned about how this premier and this government will deal with things if the wheels fall off the economy. And they worry that his solution will be more of the same – deregulate, privatize, cut services and hand over more to corporations,” says O’Neill.
Contact: Barry O’Neill, CUPE BC president: 604.340.6768
Roseanne Moran, CUPE Communications: 604.291.1940