Threats to public services right across Canada were the top concern of the second annual meeting of the National Contracting Out and Privatization Coordinating Committee, held November 4 to 6 in Ottawa.
While each community shared different examples, the message was clear – our valued public services are at risk of being handed over to private interests. Whether it’s health care, water and sewage or child care, many services are threatened.
“Communities, not corporations, must control public services,” said Cindy McQueen, from CUPE 389 in North Vancouver and co-chair of the committee. “Vital community facilities and services must remain in public hands so that high quality, affordable, locally controlled services can be delivered to the public.”
Committee members carefully analyzed the results of municipal elections recently held in four provinces. Members pledged to double their efforts to work with new councils to protect public services. In too many cities, public services – and the people that deliver them - are under attack.
“Our members will be working with community organizations to make sure that our mayors and council members understand that Canadians value their public services,” said Mark Ferguson, from Local 416 in Toronto and co-chair of the committee. “We want the community to know that our members are proud of the work they do and the services they provide. We’ll continue to work hard to keep those services in public hands, for the public good.”
The committee discussed strategies to protect services and looked closely at some examples of where communities are working together. In Victoria’s Capital Regional District CUPE members, environmental and community organizations and city councilors worked together to prevent a private public partnership for wastewater treatment.
Committee members also will sound the alarm in their communities over the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA). The agreement will give full access to purchasing and contracting in municipalities, municipal organizations, school boards and publicly funded academic, health and social services and undermines local democracy and public services.
Other highlights from the meeting included a discussion on how to involve and engage CUPE members in privatization issues, the launch of a survey on contracting-in and the impact of new Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations.