The following are results of polls concerning privitization conducted for CUPE by Vector Research.
December 1997 Vector Poll
When asked which factors were most relevant in deciding who should deliver public services, 49 per cent of respondents identified good jobs in the local economy, 44 per cent cited accountability to the taxpayers and 38 per cent named quality of services. Other factors included pay/employment equity (35 per cent), the environmental impact (34 per cent) and safe working conditions for employees (31 per cent). Least cost was identified as the first, second or third most important factor by only 19 per cent of respondents.
Women are most likely to identify jobs as the most important factor. Accountability is most valued by men.
March 1998 Vector Poll
Three quarters of Canadians indicate they are concerned when a public service is delivered by a private contractor that good jobs will be lost, environmental protection will fall and access for the poor, women and visible minorities will deteriorate; fully 49 per cent state that they are very concerned.
Similar levels of concern relate to user fees, accountability, quality, public safety, working conditions, and pay and employment equity. Even the least worrisome factor - loss of Canadian control - is identified as a concern by more than two thirds of respondents.
Concern about the negative impact of privatization is consistently higher among women, lower income Canadians and visible minorities. Residents of Quebec and the Atlantic provinces are the most concerned. Residents of Saskatchewan are consistently the least concerned.
July 1998 Vector Poll
By a margin of two to one, Canadians recognize that public private partnerships are likely to result in reduced quality, confused accountability, higher user fees and increased safety concerns. More than 70 per cent recognize that over time, staffing and service levels will be cut, 68 per cent agree that user fees will increase, 64 per cent agree that corporations will cut corners on materials, maintenance and safety to increase profits and 66 per cent agree that with joint ventures neither government nor the contractors can be held to account.
A clear majority agreed that with joint ventures a private company was guaranteed its profit, while the public assumed the risk, that the market may determine where services are located rather than need, that good-paying jobs will be replaced by insecure McJobs and that taxpayers will end up paying more.
Respondents in the West were most critical of public private partnerships, with strong concerns about cost and accountability in Alberta and Manitoba. Atlantic residents were most concerned that over the long term joint ventures would mean higher costs for taxpayers while the threat to good jobs was most keenly felt in Saskatchewan and British Columbia. Ontario residents were most concerned about false savings by cutting corners.
November 1998 Vector Poll
Few people think that politicians who promote privatization of public services want to improve services. Among four motives for privatizing, short term savings are identified as the motive by 25 per cent of respondents. Providing contracts to their political supporters was identified as the motive by 23 per cent, while improving quality was cited
by 16 per cent and 12 per cent identified cutting public sector jobs as the reason.
In the Atlantic region and in Alberta, where respondents have the greatest experience of privatization, respondents were most sceptical about politicians motives. In the Atlantic, fully 34 per cent of respondents identified rewarding supporters as the reason for privatization.
For an overwhelming majority of Canadians, water is virtually an untouchable when it comes to privatization. Fully 76 per cent of respondents believe municipal water services should be publicly owned and operated. As well, there is strong support for increased federal spending to upgrade municipal water and wastewater treatment. 82 per cent of
Canadians would support increased federal funding; 91 per cent in the Atlantic provinces.
Vector Polls are conducted by Vector Research and Development of Toronto. The findings are based on telephone interviews of approximately 1,000 adults throughout Canada. (Exact numbers vary among the four polls). In 19 cases out of 20, the results will differ by no more than 3.3 percentage points.