Feb 09, 2010

Jargon-laden Throne Speech hints at mass privatization

BURNABY— This year’s Speech from the Throne leaves no doubt that the BC Liberal government has completely ignored all expert evidence to date about the folly of public-private partnerships (P3s) and intends to push ahead with a misguided agenda of mass privatization, says the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

“As usual, the Throne Speech is full of jargon about big ideas and short on specifics,” said CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill. “But when the Liberals use buzz words like ‘innovation’ and ‘success’ while talking about P3s, it means they’ve drunk the Kool Aid.”

The Throne Speech declares that the government plans to expand on existing contracts “with new P3s in transportation, health delivery, education support services,” and more.

“The government is targeting a vast assortment of public services that have always been delivered most effectively—both from a performance and a cost-benefit point of view—under public procurement,” said O’Neill. “The fact they’re setting their sights on child care for a private preschool option tells you that nothing is off the table when it comes to P3s.”

O’Neill said that CUPE is encouraged by some announcements in the Throne Speech, such as the stated intention to increase investment in public transit and ensure fully-funded full-time kindergarten for five-year-olds in every school by 2011. But this progress is undermined by the government’s “privatization fetish,” as the CUPE BC president puts it.

“British Columbians need an explanation for why this government continues to ignore the glaring evidence about P3s,” said O’Neill.

“P3s, when used for public infrastructure and facilities, have not been a ‘success’ by any measure, contrary to the Throne Speech jargon. They have been a red ink disaster, and will continue to be for taxpayers, for many years to come. And yet the BC Liberals can’t wait to have more of them.”

COPE 491