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TORONTO CUPE members will do everything possible to ensure that their pension monies are not used to finance infrastructure renewal through public private partnerships (P3s), says Sid Ryan, president of CUPE Ontario.

Our 200,000 members in this province understand something that Greg Sorbara and Dalton McGuinty havent been able to grasp that P3s mean turning public assets such as schools, university buildings, roads and recreation facilities over to private owners and making taxpayers foot the extra costs of private borrowing, he said. For CUPE members, they also mean lost jobs, lost wages and benefits and lost pride in providing controllable and accountable services to the public.

We will not let our retirement money be used to put us out of work.

Ownership and control of operations are what attract private investment, he noted. First, the private company charges a mark-up on the money it borrows to build the assets, so it can make a profit from government. Then it makes money on operations by cutting staff, cutting wages and benefits and cutting corners. We have the evidence from across Canada and around the world.

Why is the province taking this route? he asked. We have met with the premier, the infrastructure minister and the finance minister to explain how this is a lose-lose-lose plan. They wouldnt listen and now they have to accept the consequences of taxpayer anger and labour unrest.

The provincial infrastructure plan makes the issue of joint trusteeship of the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) even more important, he said. CUPE members in municipalities, school boards and childrens aid societies make up about 44% of pension plan members.

Sorbara is relying on OMERS, the teachers pension plan and the hospitals pension plan to fund these projects. We have already started talking to the teachers unions and hospital workers about a united front to prevent this government from gambling with our retirements funds on these risky projects, Ryan said.

In the United Kingdom, where P3s are known as PFIs (privately financed initiatives), the prestigious British Medical Journal branded them perfidious financial idiocy.


For more information, contact:

Sid Ryan, President, CUPE Ontario, 416-209-0066 (cell)

Pat Daley, CUPE Communications, 416-299-9739 ext 264; 416-616-6142 (cell)