The authors of the PERT report are lying to the public.
NL’s structural deficit is an issue, but it’s an issue that can be addressed over the course of the next 10 years through modest annual revenue growth. The PERT has used unconventional accounting practices and non-standard measures to create public panic and justify radical measures that will leave Newfoundlanders and Labradorians with virtually no public infrastructure or services.
Dame Greene’s approach has been debunked by 20 years of research. The spending cuts, privatization, and centralization measures she suggests are gratuitous and unnecessary. Instead of growing our revenues to support the services we need, she suggests shrinking services or eliminating them altogether. That’s like amputating your leg to heal a sprained ankle.
The PERT report attacks working people and public services. If the report’s recommendations are accepted, our public health care, education, and social programs will be decimated. Over the six-year period, savings found in Dame Greene’s plan will be less than $500 million, while their proposed cuts are more than $3.5 billion. To deal with the deficit, we need a strong economy and confidence, not panic and austerity.
Here are some of the recommendations (cuts) coming from the report.
Crush public sector unions
The report is a blatant attack on public service workers – it suggests legislating our contracts, forcing wage freezes and eliminating our defined benefit pension plan.
Destroy public health care
The PERT report recommends cutting health care operational spending by 25% over six years and reducing the four regional health authorities down to one provincial health authority. These cuts will shutter hospitals and clinics across the province and encourage privatization of health care services like blood work and diagnostic testing.
Eliminate school boards into one superboard (and super chaos)
The report suggests dissolving all school districts and boards into a single “superboard”, paving the way for contracting out and privatization of education support services.
Sell off public assets
The report recommends handing over crown corporations to the private sector and selling revenue-generating publicly owned interests including NL Liquor Corporation, Marble Mountain Ski Resort, Bull Arm Fabrication Site, oil and gas, and Churchill River resources with Muskrat Falls and Gull Island.
Slash post-secondary education funding
The report recommends a 30% cut to Memorial University and suggests taking away democratic oversight over tuition fee increases. Tuition fees could triple overnight, programs with low enrolment could be cut, and staff made redundant. A suggested 5% cut to the College of the North Atlantic ($66 million over six years) would force some campuses to close.
Slash funding of public service operations
- 2% cut to NL Housing and NL Legal aid
- 5% cut to core government services
- 20% cut to operating grants to government
THE TIME IS NOW
CUPE locals must mobilize their members now! We cannot wait to see if PERT report recommendations become reality – we must pressure Premier Fury to reject the report entirely.
Start by making sure all members are signed up to receive updates. Use the short form on our website to subscribe at nl.cupe.ca.
Then get your members to put their boots on the ground! Tell Premier Fury and your MHAs that we will defend our fairly negotiated contracts and our way of life, especially our small communities in Newfoundland and Labrador!
We want to see and hear CUPE members joining together in solidarity from coast to coast. Start a photo protest on-line, stage a (safe) protest at your MHA’s office, write letters to the editor, and call the premier.
The CUPE NL Division is fighting back with you and has joined forces with all other public sector unions and community groups, through the NL Federation of Labour, to mobilize thousands of union members and community stakeholders! We are all in this together.
A virtual “All President’s Meeting” will take place on May 25. Details will be sent to local presidents soon.
A printable PDF version of this update can downloaded and shared with CUPE locals and members.