Thumbs down.to the provincial government, for its continuing efforts to privatize Ontarios electricity distribution grid, Hydro One. The Tories ham-fisted strategy includes appealing the court judgement that ruled the government lacked the legal authority to sell the public utility, and drafting legislation that will let the government privatize all the while holding public consultations that give new meaning to the word sham. The Tories are ignoring overwhelming opposition to the grid sell-off and the deregulation of the electricity market at their own peril.
Thumbs upto the Ontario Electricity Coalition, for its dogged and determined work in challenging the Ontario governments energy sell off. Coalition members cover the spectrum in a broad based movement that has sparked protests in communities across the province, with more than 28 municipalities representing almost 5 million Ontarians passing resolutions opposing or seriously questioning the Tory deregulation and privatization scheme.
Thumbs downto the Ontario government, for cutting post-secondary funding and allowing tuition fees to soar. Between 1995-96 and 2000-01, tuition fees rose nearly 70 per cent. Students are shouldering an increasing amount of post-secondary operating budgets. Tuition fees as a percentage of operating budgets have almost doubled between 1991-92 and 2000-01.
Thumbs downto the Ontario government, for the continuing mess in home care. The Tories competitive bidding process created a crisis that pushed privatization and forced rationing of care. Facing a rising barrage of criticism from the Community Care Access Centres (CCAC), the government moved to silence its critics. Instead of attacking the root cause of the crisis the waste and duplication of competitive bidding the government introduced Bill 130 and took over the CCACs. Its time Ontario moved to a unified, public, not-for-profit community care system.
Thumbs downto Environment Probe and other pro-privatization groups, trying to greenwash their greedy message. Their persistent push for privatization at the Walkerton Inquiry defied logic and the evidence from water privatizations around the globe. Before the inquiry had determined the causes of the tainted water tragedy, the privateers were pushing privatization as the remedy for any and all problems.
Thumbs downto the City of Toronto, for its plan to change how Torontos drinking water and wastewater systems are governed, moving them from the citys hands to an arms length agency. The plan to transfer control has unfolded with little public debate or consultation. The move could diminish accountability and community control and may well be a first step toward privatization of the water system.
Thumbs upto the Toronto Water Watch coalition, for keeping a close eye on the citys water as the city makes moves to restructure how the systems are governed. The coalition has pried open a process thats been less than accountable. Toronto Water Watch brings residents from all walks of life together with the citys water workers, forming a united front in defense of publicly managed, owned and operated drinking and wastewater systems.
Thumbs downto the Ontario government, for handing the private sector the keys to the much-needed new William Osler Hospital and Royal Ottawa Hospital. The public private partnerships to design, build, finance, own and operate the hospitals pose a threat to public health care not just in the province, but also across the country.
Thumbs downto the Ontario government, for its disastrous privatization of cancer care, choosing a costly scheme that doles out private profits while doing nothing to shorten treatment waiting times. The Tories ignored public solutions that would improve cancer treatment times.
Thumbs upto health care workers across the province, who are throwing up every barrier they can to hospital privatization. In Hamilton, CUPE 4800 has joined forces with community members to fight the privatization of core housekeeping services to French multinational Sodexho. Sodexho has a questionable track record overseas, and is fast developing one in Canada (see BC thumbs). In Scarborough, members of CUPE 1487 are defending public dietary and cafeteria services. And in Ottawa, members of CUPE 4000 are defending key support services against privatization, including housekeeping, food, material management and facility operations.
Thumbs downto the Ontario government, for awarding thousands of new long-term care beds to private, for-profit corporations. The majority of the nursing home beds have gone to key Tory donors CPL REIT and Extendicare. Privatizing care hurts the seniors who rely on it, and creates horrendous working conditions in an increasingly unregulated environment.
Thumbs downto the Ontario government, for their continuing scandal-plagued contract with Andersen Consulting (now known as Accenture). The corporations welfare reform mess is $60 million over budget, fully one-third higher than the projects original $180 million price tag a figure the provincial auditor has already harshly criticized as overinflated and delivering few results.
Thumbs downto the Ontario government, for the continuing boondoggle over the privatized toll Highway 407. Evidence shows the highway was sold for as little as a quarter of its true value, handing the privateers a money-making machine at bargain-basement prices. In early 2002, shareholders pocketed their first dividends, totalling $25 million, and the private owners continue to milk travellers through steadily increasing tolls.
Thumbs downto the Ontario government, for its new Municipal Act, which pushes privatization on already-cornered municipalities.
Thumbs downto the mayor and some Toronto city councillors, for trying to disguise privatization and contracting out as Alternative Service Delivery (ASD).
Thumbs upto the Toronto Civic Action Network (CAN), a community and union coalition thats fighting to build a humane, liveable city. Toronto CAN members successfully fought cutbacks in the citys 2002 budget, defending funding for many vital services including housing support workers.
Thumbs upto Hamilton city workers, members of CUPE 5167, for their work to keep public attention focused on a series of ASD disasters in their community, reminding voters and councillors that public works best for city services.