The privatization of hydro and health care were at the top of the agenda during a crowded We Own It town hall meeting in Sarnia on Tuesday, November 14.
"Whether you're talking about hydro or health care or our highways, there is simply no evidence that privatization saves money," OPSEU Region 1 Regional Vice-President Len Elliott told the crowd of nearly 50 people.
"In fact, the evidence clearly shows the opposite is true: privatization costs more and delivers less."
Elliott moderated the town hall, which included presentations by Sarnia City Councillor Brian White, Hydro One Not For Sale chairperson Rosario Marchese, and Ontario Health Coalition Secretary Shirley Roebuck.
"This is a wonderful campaign," said Roebuck. "We Own It! How dare the minister of health or the minister of energy tell us that privatization would be better?"
Roebuck pointed to privatization problems in hospitals, long-term care, and home care.
"Much of our home care is now provided by private companies," she said. "The workers are told they have just six minutes to give their patients a bath. Is this really the kind of care we want to be giving to our mothers and our fathers?"
Marchese reminded the audience that Ontario's hydro system was fully public for nearly 100 years, and that rates were kept stable and affordable throughout.
"Conservative politicians like Sir Adam Beck recognized that private hydro would hinder progress, so they worked hard to kick the profiteers out of hydro," Marchese said. "They succeeded, and all of Ontario prospered."
Answering a question from the crowd, Marchese said the only real solution to sky-high rates is to make the entire hydro system public again.
"Making hydro public again will be expensive," he acknowledged. "But it will be even more expensive if we don't make it public again."
As a city councillor, White said he's worried about what privatization schemes will come along next.
"Here in Sarnia, we just pushed off a proposal to privatize our jail," he said. "What's next? If they're willing to sell off a jail, what won't they sell off?
"We need to draw a line in the sand and say 'no more.'"
Elliott wrapped the meeting up with a note of optimism.
"We know that when we come together to stand up for services that we need, we can win," he said. "If everybody in this room will stand up for public services, we can save them."