OTTAWA – Canada’s premiers and territorial leaders opened the door to Prime Minister Harper’s privatization agenda today by failing to arrive at a progressive equalization formula, says Canada’s largest union.
Paul Moist, national president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, warned that this failure gives the Conservative federal government a freer hand to impose its own equalization formula.
“While this is not surprising, it represents an advantage for the Harper government heading into talks with the Premiers this fall that bolsters his privatization agenda,” said Moist.
The leaders also failed to unite to press Harper for a quality, public, national child care and early learning program. They also lost an opportunity to offer up a united position on funding for post-secondary education and reduce crushing debt-loads for students. They agreed that a $2.2 billion infusion of money is necessary but failed to agree on how the money should flow.
“This was a key moment to redress the enormous cuts to transfers for post-secondary education imposed by the Liberals in the mid-1990s,” said Moist.
On the positive side, Moist was pleased that a national pharmaceuticals strategy was placed squarely on the agenda.
“While there is still a long way to go before we get a national Pharmacare program, we look forward to working with all levels of government to speed its progress when the premiers release their report this fall,” Moist said.
Moist acknowledged the wide range of issues facing the premiers, but slammed the approach of some who insist on pushing tax cuts instead of public spending.
“BC Premier Gordon Campbell’s dissertation on the merits of tax cuts versus spending enhancements is pure conservative dogma,” said Moist. “He might as well have been reading from the same script as Prime Minister Harper.”
Paul Moist, National President, cell (613) 558-2873; David Robbins CUPE Communications, cell (613) 878-1431The Canadian Union of Public Employees represents 550,000 public sector workers nationwide.