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B.C. Liberals urged to reconsider privatization policies

Victoria - Contracting out often costs more money than it saves,
says the British Columbia Government and Service Employees' Union

In a pre-budget submission to the province's privatization-obsessed Liberal government, the union urges Premier Gordon Campbell and his cabinet to reconsider their policies and treat the public sector with greater respect in future.

"We stand by the recommendations made to the Standing Committee on Finance last year; they are even more appropriate today," the union says in a new submission, presented Oct. 17.

No evidence of benefit

"Contracting of services often turns out to be more expensive than having the job done by experienced government professionals. There is no evidence that privatization is more efficient," the union says. "And when privatization means corporate self monitoring – as in forestry, pollution control, water treatment, highways and health facilities – the public interest takes second place to the corporate sector’s ... primary focus on profits.

"B.C. Rail and B.C. Hydro are important economic tools that have benefited British Columbians for years. They should not be broken into pieces. They should not be wholly or partly privatized."

The union made a series of recommendations in its 12-page submission, including a call for increased staffing in the ministries of water, land, and air protection; sustainable resource management, and forests.

Neutral professionalism

" Neutral, professional public employees ensure that our environmental laws are enforced and that resource companies, such as those involved in forestry, mining, and fisheries are not polluting, over-harvesting, destroying wildlife habitat and that they are paying the proper sums to government for the resources they extract," the union argued. 

Other recommendations called for the Liberals to:

  • Restore and expand the legal aid system, reinstate debtor assistance and residential tenancy offices, increase income assistance and the minimum wage and restore the human rights commission.

  • End contracting out of health care and education facilities and services, and discourage the involvement of multinational health care corporations.

  • Restore the industry trades and apprenticeship commission, and invest in increased access to apprenticeship training through public institutions.

  • Ensure public ownership and maintenance of highways without tolls.

  • Stop the assault on rural and small communities, hurt by job losses in resource sectors and cuts to government facilities and services.

  • Stop the assault on the disadvantaged in areas hard hit by cuts, such as reductions in services like PharmaCare, home support, legal aid, income assistance.