It was standing room only during a We Own It town hall meeting in Belleville on Tuesday, November 7. OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas encouraged the crowd of nearly 100 to make their communities stronger and safer by fighting back against privatization.
It's no secret that the people who want to privatize public services are mainly interested in one thing: profit. They look at public services and they see large projects, steady demand, and reliable funding. In other words, they see opportunities to make money, and lots of it
But an upcoming conference on privatization provides an even more detailed glimpse into the minds of privatizers, and what they think about when they think about public services, including:
- Capitalizing on the Trump Presidency
- Finding the next "hot" privatization opportunities
- Managing the costs of "community benefits."
Leading a delegation of We Own It supporters and mobilizers, OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas threw his support behind the provincial Keep Transit Public campaign during its launch on Oct. 24.
“More than 42,000 Ontarians have signed up for the We Own It campaign. They want to keep transit public because we own it!” Thomas said to a boisterous crowd gathered in front of Toronto’s Union Station.
Privatization hurts all Ontarians, but it's especially damaging to rural communities. During a packed town hall meeting in Brockville on Tuesday, October 10, a politically diverse group of leaders said it's time for a "rural renaissance" to push back against privatization and austerity.
“The provincial government has all but forgotten rural Ontario, and it’s killing communities like Brockville,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas.
He said the problem is privatization, which leaves the government with less money to invest in the prosperity and safety of small communities.
“Just look at the 401 here in Brockville,” Thomas said. “It’s the most dangerous stretch of highway in the province. It should be six lanes all the way to the Quebec border, but the government says they can’t afford it.
“Well, they can’t afford it because of privatization.”
More than 30 people came together in Barrie last night for a town hall meeting about protecting their communities from the damage done by privatization in hydro, correctional services, and health care.
“If we don’t fight privatization, we’ll end up right where they are right now in England,” said one of the panelists, medical lab technologist and OPSEU Vice-President Sara Labelle.
“Their health care system used to be the model for the world, but since they started privatizing, their costs have definitely gone up. Now they have to fight to make hospitals public again.”
When things are going smoothly, you can count on privatized public services to be open, making a profit. But when trouble arises, reliability drops. And that leads to longer wait times and fewer services for all.
Sleep patients in southwest Ontario are learning this difficult lesson right now.
The Ontario government has decided to keep cannabis sales public, drawing praise from business owners, public policy experts, non-profits such as Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, and labour leaders.
“We have said from the start that the way to limit social harm from the sale of cannabis is through the successful model of public control that the LCBO has been using for 90 years," said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas after the government's announcement. "This is a prudent plan that we’ve worked hard to promote in conversations with our communities, with the cannabis industry, and with government.”
During a sometimes emotional town hall meeting in Thunder Bay on Sept. 6, nearly 50 citizens, politicians and journalists heard about the damage privatization is doing to their community.
“My child cannot get the help he needs. My God, I fight so hard and I just get nowhere,” said Erin Smith-Rice, fighting back tears. “Our public services aren’t even coming close to meeting our needs.”
One of four panel speakers during the event, Smith-Rice said it’s time for everybody in Thunder Bay — and across Ontario — to acknowledge that decades of privatizations and corporate tax cuts are having serious and even deadly consequences.
From health care to highways and from schools to social services, privatization comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. But most privatizations have one thing in common: secrecy. As people in Ottawa are discovering, it's often a struggle to get basic information out of the people wringing profit from our public services.
If you do your job, you get paid. But if you're working for the federal government, there's only a 50 per cent chance that's true.
According to an investigation by the CBC, half of all federal government employees have reported problems with their paycheques since a privatized pay system called Phoenix came online.