VANCOUVER, BC - BC’s labour movement is standing united against Campbell’s agenda to force public-private partnerships (P3s) on communities throughout the province and vows to oppose any attempt by the provincial or federal government to privatize the planned Capital Region District sewage treatment plant.
This morning, the 1100 delegates attending this year’s 50th BC Federation of Labour convention passed a resolution unanimously to oppose what was referred to on the floor as the provincial government’s “forced privatization initiative”, announced in October, that all B.C. infrastructure projects over $20 million seeking provincial funding must have Partnerships BC oversight.
Labour representatives from virtually every sector of the economy - including health care, education, municipalities, and the building trades spoke out against the privatization of public infrastructure and services.
“There is no place for profit in health care,” said a representative of the Hospital Employees Union (HEU). “The principle is the same in education, transportation, water, all public services. This is not a medieval society. Public services are social responsibilities.”
Several delegates spoke on the urgent need to protect water and wastewater services from privatization. “Water is the new gold - Blue Gold,” said CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill. “We need to keep private corporations away from our water and wastewater.”
A delegate involved in the campaign to ensure the much needed Capital Regional District sewage treatment plant be built publicly urged delegates to join and support the Island Water Watch campaign.
Delegates said P3s projects are shrouded in secrecy and face gross delays, loss of service and public scrutiny, as well as huge cost overruns. Delegates heard that private businesses have to pay more interest than governments to borrow money; have to make a profit; and are engaged in a longer and more complicated bidding process which increases the total cost of projects
Some spoke to the democratic failure and conflict of interest inherent in an organization like Partnerships BC, which both create P3s and then advise government on whether their P3 projects should be used.
The unanimous passing of the resolutions commits B.C.’s voice of labour to:
- Oppose the imposition of a P3 agenda on municipalities, school boards, post-secondary institutions and other projects recognizing that P3s are expensive, risky and secretive;
- Support campaigns to keep public services public throughout B.C. and particularly the campaign to maintain public management and operation of sewage services in the Capital Regional District
“If P3s are so good,” said CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill, “why do they [provincial government] have to force them on communities?”
For more information, please contact:
British Columbia Federation of Labour Communications Director
CUPE National Communications Representative