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WINNIPEG – A recent Probe Research poll shows that 86% of Manitobans agree (68% strongly) that Manitoba Hydro should remain publicly owned and two out of three Manitobans agree that the privatization of Manitoba Hydro should be debated during the 2011 provincial election. It is for this reason that energy sector unions have united to mount a campaign in favour of keeping Manitoba Hydro publicly owned.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 2034 and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada hired the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives to study the virtues of keeping Manitoba Hydro as a public enterprise and the risks Manitobans would face if it was ever privatized.
The final report, Power Struggle:  Manitoba Hydro and the Spectre of Privatization, highlights that 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.

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

CUPE, the CEP and IBEW along with the support of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers and the Telecommunications Employees Association of Manitoba have launched a billboard campaign across Winnipeg urging voters to challenge the main political parties to state their position on the privatization of Manitoba Hydro.

100% of the profits from Manitoba Hydro are re-invested in Manitoba,” said Mike Velie, business manager of IBEW Local 2034. “If privatized, rates will go up as shareholders will want to maximize profits, as was the case when MTS was sold. Electricity is an essential service and putting essential services in the hands of the private sector is a huge risk.”

The Canadian Union of Public Employees is Canada’s largest union representing more than a half-million women and men.  In Manitoba, CUPE represents 26,000 members working in health care facilities, personal care homes, school divisions, municipal services, social services, child care centres, public utilities, libraries and family emergency services.

For information, contact: 

Liam Martin, CUPE Communications at (204) 612-0901