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(Hamilton) - Hamiltonians must be scratching their heads, following the Hamilton Transition Boards recent mishandling of a decision on ambulance services and wondering if the Boards real agenda is one of “privatization at all costs”.

That blunt assessment comes from the president of CUPE Local 167, which represents some 1,600 municipal workers in nine different bargaining units (Region of Hamilton-Wentworth, City of Hamilton, two homes for the aged, several smaller municipalities and the SPCA).

Gus Oliveira says, “The Boards attempts to hand over the delivery of this important public service to a private company - even in the face of recommendations from senior staff and a consulting firm that they hired - is troubling to say the least.”

Says Oliveira, “People need to ask themselves if this provincially-appointed Board is actually looking at the best interests of the community. Or, do they simply have a blind ideological belief that private sector options are automatically better?”

Municipalities across Ontario have been choosing the public model of ambulance service delivery because study after study has shown it is more cost-effective and of superior quality. Ambulance services have been downloaded by the provincial government, forcing municipalities to take over their delivery.

The CUPE president says, “The only thing that saved public delivery of ambulance service in Hamilton region is that Canadian Medical Response (Laidlaw) announced it was getting out of the private ambulance business. To think decisions are being made in this way is scary stuff.”

Hamiltonians who need a reminder of what privatization of public services can bring, should think back to the debacle which surrounded the 10-year, sweetheart deal which saw the Region hand over the water treatment plants to Philip Services.

Equally disturbing is the fact the Hamilton Transition Board does not even have authority to implement services delivery under Bill 25, the provinces City of Hamilton Act. They are restricted to planning and design under the Act.

For information:
Gus Oliveira, President CUPE Local 167
(905) 522-0917 (o)
John McCracken, CUPE Communications Rep.
(416) 292-3999 (o)

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