Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Election 2019 Voter Guide: Part 4

With the 2019 Federal Election fast approaching, the New Brunswick Union (NBU) and the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) have compiled a voter’s guide for our members.
This series will lay out how the party’s stand on topics such as privatization, human rights, austerity, pharmacare and income inequality, among many others.
The NBU is non-partisan, meaning we do not support any political party. What we support is our members making informed choices when it comes to the future of our country.
We hope this guide will help you understand the issues and where the party’s stand.
Part 1 of the series will dealt with austerity. Part 2 dealt with Income Inequality. Part 3 looked at Labour Rights.
Today’s edition will look at Privatization.

Privatization
Regardless of what methods are used to privatize public services, there are serious problems with privatization. Among the problems that the three methods of privatization listed below have in common are:
• Secrecy and lack of accountability
• Higher costs
• Poor quality
• Primary goal of serving the public replaced with making a profit for investors

Federal P3 Privatization Schemes
There are 13 federal P3 privatization schemes in operation, under construction, or in the planning stages. These include transportation infrastructure and federal government buildings. With the exception of one P3 privatization scheme that was started when Brian Mulroney was prime minister, all federal government P3s were initiated by the current Liberal government or previous Conservative government.

Using Federal Funding to Encourage the Use of P3 Privatization Schemes
The Liberal government’s Canada Infrastructure Bank is just the latest example of federal funds being used to encourage other levels of government to use P3 privatization schemes. Using federal funds to pressure provincial, territorial, municipal and Indigenous governments to use P3s started under the Harper government. PPP Canada was set up to promote the use of P3 privatization schemes, and in many cases, projects were only able to get federal funding if P3s were used.
In each case, by using (or withholding) public funding to pressure other levels of government to use P3s, the federal government is subsidizing privatization.

Social Impact Bonds
The first federal government social impact bond was initiated by the former Conservative government in 2014. Preliminary estimates suggested that administration would account for 60% of the cost, but because the number of participants was lower than expected, the percentage of the cost going to administration may have been higher. In spite of this, the current Liberal government agreed to a second federal government social impact bond in 2016. It also appears likely that a significant portion of the Social Finance Fund, announced in late 2018, will go to subsidize social impact bonds.
Track Record & Campaign Promises

Liberal
• Used P3 privatization schemes in government, and through the Canada Infrastructure Bank, are encouraging other levels of government to use P3s.
• Three projects getting funding from the Canada Infrastructure Bank are P3s.
• While the Liberal government closed down PPP Canada, which was created by the previous Conservative government, given how the Canada Infrastructure Bank was set up, it will fill a similar function.
• In government, obtained intervenor status in the Cambie case to oppose the attempt to use the Charter of Rights to undermine public health care.
• The Liberal government has already funded one social impact bond project when in government.
• Information released so far about the Social Finance Fund set up by the Liberal government means the door is open to it being used to subsidize social impact bonds and organizations setting up social impact bonds.

Conservative
When in government, used P3 privatization schemes, and through PPP Canada, encouraged other levels of government to use P3s.
Opposed the Canada Infrastructure Bank due to the level of funding not because opposed to P3s.
Funded the first federal government social impact bond when in government.
Called for greater use of social impact bonds for social services, and for justice and correctional services.

NDP
• Opposed the Canada Infrastructure Bank because against federal funds being used to privatize public infrastructure.
• Enforce provisions of the Canada Health Act that prevent privatization and user fees in the health care system.
• No position taken on social impact bonds or on how the Social Finance Fund should be used.

Green Party
• Have traditionally opposed privatization, including P3 privatization schemes.
• Elizabeth May’s proposal in July 2019 that SNC-Lavalin be put in charge of providing clean drinking water for First Nations communities as a form of “community service” has raised concerns about the party position on newer forms of privatization in which the privatization process is less obvious.
• No position taken on social impact bonds or how the Social Finance Fund should be used.