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.
The scheme to privatize gambling in the GTA was negotiated in secret, leading the president of the union representing workers at the Woodbine Racetrack to call for a full public inquiry.
“It reminds me of the Hwy. 407 privatization deal,” Public Service Alliance of Canada Local 533 president Theo Lagakos told The Toronto Sun. “These negotiations were done in secret. We need some transparency because we were kept in the dark."
Drawing more than 1,000 politicians from 440 communities, the annual conference of Ontario’s mayors and municipal councillors is one of the most important events on the political calendar. We Own It was there, encouraging community leaders to keep their public services public.
Donald Trump wants to privatize air traffic control, but the heroic pilot behind the Miracle on the Hudson says that would put profits over safety, giving "the keys of the kingdom to the four largest airlines.”
The province's transit authority wanted Hamilton's new light rail transit (LRT) to be completely privatized. But on Aug. 9, Hamilton citizens and Hamilton City Council said an emphatic no!
The Trudeau government seems content to let private corporations draw profits from our blood system, but the group of citizens behind a group called Blood Watch aren't going to let them get away with it easily.
Earlier this year, Blood Watch filed a Freedom of Information request on the federal government's decision to allow a private corproation set up paid plasma donation clinics in places like Saskatchewan and New Brunswick. Thanks to that digging, we now know that the Federal Liberals blatantly ignored the warnings and safety concerns of the Canadian Blood Service.
Blood Watch helped ensure that paid plasma collection has been outlawed here in Ontario. But if it's allowed anywhere in Canada, Ontarians can still suffer. Blood donations will likely fall. And as the Krever Inquiry into Canada's "tainted blood scandal" found, private and unregulated blood and plasma collection can lead to profound safety breaches.