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The pro-business members of Winnipeg’s Economic Opportunities Commission (EOC) have released a report that promotes shutting down, contracting out or privatizing city services that are not so-called “core” services.

The report takes aim at Winnipeg municipal workers, members of CUPE 500. The report specifically targets job security provisions in the local’s collective agreement – clauses that are a major line of defense against contracting out and privatization.

The EOC is made up of business and anti-tax representatives, and was set up to find ways to eliminate the business tax, which earns the city about $55 million a year. In its place, the EOC proposes replacing workers with volunteers, privatizing everything from meter reading to snow removal, as well as selling off city golf courses, and letting corporations pay to put their names on public facilities.

CUPE 500 members are mobilizing to defend their collective agreement and community services. But as the EOC report shows, common sense and a desire to provide the public with the best possible service are not the principles that guide some councillors or officials in the city of Winnipeg.

The Manitoba office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has published an analysis showing just how little sense the EOC proposals make. In the fact sheet, Ian Hudson, an associate professor of economics at the University of Manitoba, dismantles the EOC’s arguments and alternatives. He points out the “narrow self-interest” of the report’s backers, arguing that “letting lobbyists actually write public policy is not usually considered good governance.”

The CCPA report comes on the heels of the think tank’s comprehensive update on privatization in Manitoba, released last month.