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The fight continues to stop the Ontario municipal workers pension plan (OMERS) from funding privatization schemes. Despite an excellent CUPE presentation that made a watertight case against continued P3 investment, the OMERS board is pushing ahead with a $100 million fund for health care infrastructure investment. OMERS helps fund P3 investment through its 26 per cent ownership of the Borealis investment corporation

Following the CUPE presentation, the OMERS board passed a motion that appeared to prohibit investment in schemes such as the Ontario P3s planned for the Royal Ottawa, William Osler, Markham-Stouffville and Uxbridge hospitals. Yet just weeks later, Borealis was named as part of the winning bid for the William Osler P3 hospital in Brampton. Borealis is in the running for the Royal Ottawa P3, and is also involved in a consortium short-listed for the Abbotsford P3 hospital in BC.

CUPE Ontario, CUPEs Ontario Council of Hospital Unions and the Ontario Federation of Labour are all keeping the pressure on the OMERS board to get out of P3s once and for all. About half of OMERS active members are CUPE members. The Canada Pension Plan investment board also owns 26 per cent of Borealis. CUPE plans to pressure the CPP investment board on P3 investment.

Public and political pressure does make a difference. A recent National Post article pointed to the Ontario Teachers pension plan one of the countrys largest pools of capital as the first potential player to say publicly it is concerned with the political risk associated with P3s. Still smarting over the failed privatization of Hydro One, plan managers say they will not invest in a privatized BC highway, or any other P3 in the province, unless they know the deal is secure and the terms will not change. Clearly, the work of CUPE members and other activists in questioning and destabilizing P3 plans is having an impact.

For more information on pensions, P3s and privatization, check out a recent issue of Pension Talk titled Saying no to privatization with our pension funds, available on CUPEs web site at http://www.cupe.ca/www/Pensions/5138