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Canadians oppose financing provincial privatization

Majority want federal tax transfers spent on public services

Ottawa - A poll conducted for the National Union of Public and General Employees has found that a majority of Canadians believe Ottawa should require the provinces to spend federal transfers on public, not-for-profit services.

The survey by Vector Research and Development Inc. of Toronto found that 55% of respondents feel Ottawa should attach strings to transfer payments to halt the privatizing of public services by the provinces.

Albertans, typically more suspicious than most of federal politicians encroaching on provincial turf, are somewhat less inclined than people in other regions of the country to tie the provinces' hands.

Yet even there, 45% of Albertans believe Ottawa should insist that any federal money given to the provinces be spent only on public, not-for-profit services.

At the other end of the scale, Quebecers were most opposed to the idea of federal money being used to pay for services provided by for-profit contractors.

A total of 63% of those surveyed in Quebec believe Ottawa should require the provinces to use transfer money for public, not-for-profit delivery of services.

(The Charest government in Quebec is currently moving in the opposite direction. It has announced radical labor law changes designed to make the contracting-out of public services to for-profit providers easier).

The findings of the new poll are consistent with earlier studies showing that most Canadians reject privatizing key public services such as health, education, water, police and fire protection.

In a May 2002 NUPGE-sponsored national poll, for example, 49% said it was more important to keep private, for-profit companies out of health care than to control the amount governments spend on health.
In a March 1999 Vector poll 65% were unlikely or certain not to vote for a provincial party that "promotes privatizing health care, education and social services."
In July 1998 48% said consumers would get better service when the public sector provides household water, not private, for-profit contractors.

Note: This survey, based on telephone interviews conducted with 1,004 randomly selected adults throughout the country from November 17-27, is considered accurate to within 3.1 percentage points 19 times out of 20.

More information:
Mike Luff (613) 228-9800 mluff@nupge.ca