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With an election expected soon, Paul Martins budget plays down privatization but if you read between the lines, theres no doubt about his agenda. With no new funding for health care, the pressure to privatize will continue to build.

Martins conservative budget puts reducing debt ahead of reducing the social deficit, ignoring the pressing need for major investments in hospitals, water systems, transit and schools and tying the funds that are available to public private partnerships (P3s).

CUPE National Secretary-Treasurer Claude Généreux says Martin is deliberately starving public health care because he wants to create a crisis and then offer his corporate cronies as the solution to growing waiting lists.

Provinces did not waste time jumping on the privatization bandwagon. Nova Scotia premier John Hamm announced a day after the budget that without more federal funding, the provinces will examine more options for privatization.

Meanwhile the Martin government continues to push P3s as the wave of the future. Rather than force P3 advocates to justify their claims, the parliamentary secretary responsible for P3s, Scarborough MP John McKay, says The burden will be on the proponent of a project to demonstrate that a P3 is inappropriate.