There’s a new resource for CUPE members, pension trustees and anti-privatization activists who want to keep public services and infrastructure in public hands. The Keep our pensions out of privatization toolkit gives CUPE activists and pension representatives information about the dangers of pension funds investing in public-private partnerships (P3s) and other types of privatization.

The kit has ideas for action for both trustees and CUPE members, including how to find out where your fund is invested, and ways to have a greater say in investment decisions so that together, we can keep our pensions out of privatization.

Often, we rely on union representatives on a board of trustees or other governing body to challenge pension fund investments in privatization. Our trustees do an excellent job – but they can’t do it alone. It’s up to all of us to speak up and oppose our pension funds profiting from privatization.

COVID-19 brings new privatization threats

Government deficits that were necessary to support us through this pandemic, will be used to support a pro-privatization agenda in the economic recovery. But privatization won’t kick-start the Canadian economy, it will only hurt public services.

The Liberal government says the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) will play a major role in economic stimulus plans. The CIB targets pension funds as key investors in privately owned, operated and financed infrastructure projects, many of which will be P3s.

Profit-motivated lobby groups like the Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships and the Global Infrastructure Investor Association will also be pushing governments to ramp up privatization. Many public sector pension plans are members of these organizations.

Private capital like our pension funds will be on the hunt for privatization deals in transit, electricity, water, schools, hospitals, elder care, child care and more.

Time for action

Pension plans that invest in privatization risk damage to their reputation, along with legal and financial risks. Examples have piled up in recent months.

Families of long-term care residents have launched class action lawsuits against Revera Inc., a for-profit long-term care company owned by the Public Sector Pension Investment Board (PSPIB). The suits seek hundreds of millions of dollars in damages for alleged negligence and breach of contract. The PSPIB invests the pension funds of federal public service workers, military personnel and RCMP employees.

Momentum is building to end privatization of vital services like long-term care and return to public ownership. CUPE is campaigning for the federal government to fix long-term care now. Two federal public sector unions are calling on PSPIB to end its investment and turn Revera facilities over to public ownership and control. A recent Angus Reid poll found that two-thirds of people surveyed support public takeovers of private long-term care facilities.

In addition, pension fund-owned airports shuttered when global travel came to a halt and have since struggled to re-open. Plummeting traffic levels have also created revenue challenges for pension fund-owned toll roads around the world.

CUPE is strongly opposed to members’ pension funds investing in and profiting from privatization schemes like P3s. CUPE members don’t want their deferred wages invested in ways that hurt workers and community members, or that put the reputation or health of our pension plans at risk.

Together, let’s work to keep our pensions out of privatization.

Download the kit