Thursday, July 16, 2020

Improved public services needed, not more privatization

Meeting the needs of Canadians requires improved public services, not new forms of privatization. That’s the message from the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) Task Force on New Forms of Privatization report, For the Public Good: The growing threat of privatization and workers’ proposals to protect our future that was recently released.
The report is particularly timely, given how the COVID-19 pandemic has shown both the benefits of quality public services, and the huge price we pay when services are privatized. As the CLC points out, as businesses and services start to reopen, we will continue to need strong public services.
Report reflects work of NUPGE and other public sector unions
The CLC Task Force on New Forms of Privatization was set up as a result of resolutions on new forms of privatization submitted by NUPGE and other affiliates to the last CLC Convention. NUPGE was represented on the task force.
While CLC reports reflect the input of different affiliates, the report does include many of the points that NUPGE has made about privatization over the years. This includes the research that NUPGE has been doing on new forms of privatization, such as social impact bonds, since 2012.
Recommendations include improving public services and greater accountability
Recommendations in the report deal with both improving public services, and improving accountability and transparency. The recommendations on accountability and transparency respond to the problem of the secrecy surrounding privatization schemes. This means that the public often doesn’t know how much damage privatization has been done until there is a crisis.
There are also recommendations on the need for greater tax fairness, including addressing the use of loopholes and tax havens by large corporations and the wealthy. This responds to a point that NUPGE has been making for many years about how tax cuts are used to starve public services of the funds they need and set the stage for privatization.
Some of the recommendations address areas where privatization is particularly destructive. Health and social services are mentioned specifically. Because of the damage to both public health and government revenues, so is the privatization of liquor and cannabis sales.
A better way to rebuild
As we start to recover from the pandemic, there will be a debate about how we rebuild. The privatization industry and its political allies will be trying to make sure as much money as possible goes into the pockets of the well-connected businesses and wealthy individuals who profit from privatization.
The CLC Task Force report is a timely reminder that there is a better, fairer way to rebuild. By strengthening public services, we can ensure that everyone benefits from the recovery and that we are better equipped to respond to, and possibly even prevent, future crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic.