The growing push by governments and corporations to privatize public services is harming Indigenous, Black and racialized workers and their communities. CUPE’s research report The Colour of Privatization shows how for-profit services worsen racial and economic inequity for groups who are already disadvantaged because of past and ongoing injustices.  

The Colour of Privatization shares the stories of Indigenous, Black and racialized CUPE members working in post-secondary education, long-term care, hospitals, social services and utilities. It also exposes the role of privatization in Canada’s housing crisis and the struggles of CUPE members confronting the crisis.

Corporations and their shareholders profit when public services are privatized. The report shows how these profits come at the direct expense of Black, Indigenous and racialized workers who work in contracted-out services, or who depend on these services.

The Colour of Privatization finds that privatization drives down wages, erodes working conditions and shreds quality public services, leaving workers to face:

  • Significantly lower pay and reduced benefits
  • Harsh working conditions and heavy workloads
  • Insecure, precarious jobs
  • Racial discrimination, gender-based harassment and favouritism
  • Poor quality services for people struggling to access basic living needs

The report calls on governments at all levels to walk their talk about racial and gender equity by protecting workers and their communities from the consequences of privatization. Governments and public sector employers must:

  • Stop all privatization of public services and facilities including contracting out, the most common type of privatization.
  • Prevent corporations from contract flipping, which tramples on workers’ rights, through expanded successor rights in labour laws.
  • Overhaul the National Housing Strategy to recognize for-profit housing is not the solution and ensure everyone has the right to adequate housing.
  • Collect and share data on the wages, benefits and working conditions of Indigenous, Black and racialized workers.

The report also lists ways CUPE must strengthen our commitment to anti-privatization, equity, and anti-racism. CUPE, our locals and all members should:

  • Ensure the experiences of Indigenous, Black and racialized members guide our anti-privatization work and help set our bargaining priorities.
  • Collect and share data about wages, benefits, working and living conditions of Black, Indigenous and racialized CUPE members.
  • Continue to bargain strong collective agreement protections on anti-racism, equity and anti-privatization.
  • Continue to bargain for wage parity between members in the public and private sectors.
  • Develop bargaining language that supports the housing needs and rights of our members.

The report helps advance Goal 4 of CUPE’s Anti-Racism Strategy by sharing the lived experiences of Indigenous, Black and racialized members. Learn more about the strategy, and how you and your local can help put it into action.