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.
The group making money from the national capital's new $2.1-billion light-rail line is refusing to release inspection reports about construction project.
“There is a threat of significant prejudice to RTG if the records are disclosed, as it could reasonably be expected to harm RTG’s position in the competitive market,” the consortium’s lawyer wrote to Ontario's Information and Privacy Commissioner.
But the man fighting to get access to those records says the new transit system is being paid for by the public and will be used by the public. “It’s the most major infrastructure project in Ottawa and a lot of people are going to ride this system,” says Ken Rubin.
“What do they have to hide?”
This kind of privatization secrecy isn't unique to Ottawa or to transit:
The federal Liberals are keeping secret the numbers behind their scheme to privatize the county's major airports. Earlier this month, Federal Transportation Minister Marc Garneau refused to release a report on the scheme, saying "it is confidential."
Meanwhile, the provincial Liberals are keeping secret the numbers behind their scheme to privatize gambling at Woodbine Racetrack and across the province. "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."
And in Grey County, people are struggling to get access to the financial details that county councillors are using to make their decision to sell-off a high-quality public long-term care facility. The councillors released the details, but in a heavily redacted version: