Letter from the Editor: Privatization is not consistent with Saskatchewan values

By: Kent Peterson, SFL Strategic Advisor and Labour Reporter Editor

 

Kent Peterson addresses the 2015 SFL conventionThe battle to keep our Crowns and public services is about a strong economy, it is about keeping good jobs in Saskatchewan communities, it is about transparency and accountability, and it is about the values of Saskatchewan people.

 

We value a strong future for our kids and grandkids; we value ensuring services are there for people when they need them; we value jobs staying here in Saskatchewan, and; we want to control our own future.

 

Privatization is opposed to each and every one of those values.

 

“Crowns are not going to be privatized and [subsidiaries] are not going to be wound down.” That was said by Brad Wall in September of 2007. In November of that year he was elected premier.

 

Crowns are not going to be sold or wound down, he said.

 

 

These are only a few examples from the first two years of Brad Wall’s Sask. Party government.

 

Brad Wall made a promise to get elected, but almost immediately after the 2007 election he and his Sask. Party government started tearing down the Crowns that built Saskatchewan. The privatization of our Crowns exports good local jobs out of small communities – and the Sask. Party is doing this behind the backs of Saskatchewan voters.

 

The evidence is clear: the Sask. Party government has been implementing an aggressive and risky privatization agenda. They are selling-out Saskatchewan, and selling-off what belongs to the people of the province.

 

Whether someone works in the public sector or not, it largely does not matter: everyone uses, depends on, and benefits from strong Crowns and public services.

 

Even if someone does not drink alcohol, they would still feel the negative impacts of privatizing our public liquor stores. It would mean the loss of some $200 million in public money. Dollars that are currently being spent teaching children, caring for seniors, maintaining parks, and plowing snow off highways.

 

Some uncomfortable questions need to be asked.

 

Do owners of private nursing homes value the lives of seniors over their own profit? Does a private prison care about prisoner rehabilitation and safety, or do they care more about their shareholders?

 

This is a battle over our values.

 

The Sask. Party has privatized hospital laundry services to an out-of-province corporation. What does it mean for patients and healthcare professionals when “clean” laundry comes back blood-stained and soiled? Is it safe?

 

This Fall the Sask. Party will pass legislation that privatizes MRIs.

 

Should only those with the means to pay be able to access diagnosis procedures like MRIs? It does not matter what Brad Wall spins it as, this is queue-jumping plain and simple. It is the Americanization of healthcare; the rich benefit, everyone else suffers – and it is wrong.

 

Is it right that surgical capacity in this province will only be expanded if it is done by private corporations? Earlier this year the Minister of Health closed a number of public surgical beds, and said that a new surgical centre in Regina will only proceed so long as it is built and operated by a private corporation.

 

When elementary school students are not allowed to play on the grass at recess, has privatization gone too far? This example comes out of Alberta’s school privation experiment. The corporation that operated a school found they had a rather lucrative side-business renting out the playground for wedding photos, and they did not want kids mucking up the grass.

 

Saskatchewan is, right now, building 18 of these privatized schools.

 

That is what privatization looks like.

 

The Sask. Party government has no shortage of money when it comes to privatizing prisons and handing out 30-year maintenance agreements at $6 million per year. There is no shortage of money when it comes to giving away hospital laundry services, or privatizing correctional food services and then building profit guarantees into the contract.

 

This premier will not hesitate for a second in giving away $200 million worth of public benefits so long as he can sell-off our liquor stores to the lowest bidder. There is no shortage of money to dismantle Crowns, sell-off our public assets; there is endless money for $40 million lean consultants.

 

The Sask. Party government even found $2 billion for a privatized highway around the city of Regina. $2 billion for a road built by a private corporation from France.

                                                                                                                                                                  

The entire K-12 education budget for one year in Saskatchewan is $1.88 billion. The Sask. Party government has blown an entire year of education on one privatized road. Someone is getting rich off that project, and Saskatchewan people paying for it. It has also been revealed that government snow plow operators will not even be allowed to plow snow off this new road. They will actually have to lift their blades once they get to the privatized bypass. The reason why, of course, is that the government is paying the France-based company to plow the road.

 

When it comes to winter safety and expertise with regards to plowing snow off roads – only the Sask. Party would say that the France-based company is better than Saskatchewan workers.

 

Perhaps the most shocking part of all this occurred on October 14, 2015. The Minister of Education, Don Morgan was asked if school divisions would be receiving mid-year funding to help them cope with shrinking resources and a growing number of students.

 

The Minister replied: “money just isn’t there.”

 

This is what privatization looks like: it is real, it is expensive, and it is dangerous.

 

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