(TORONTO) – Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa must make it clear the government will not participate in a fire sale of valuable public holdings through a new scheme promoted by the private sector titled “asset recycling,” the president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union said today.
“Recently, several leading voices in the private sector, like the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, have called on the government to get involved in asset recycling, which in plain English means selling off all or parts of our province’s Crown agencies, infrastructure and other holdings,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas.
“These voices claim that’s the only way our treasury can raise the needed funds to re-invest in other public services and infrastructure. We’ve seen where these sorts of private-sector grabs have gone in the past and I don’t believe the people of Ontario want to watch the painful re-runs.”
Thomas cited the bargain basement sell-off of Highway 407 and the former Sky Dome as two prime examples of how the public purse is snatched from the hands of the Ontario people when the private sector talks of “public-private partnerships.”
“But the list doesn’t stop with those two egregious examples of how we have been ripped off,” Thomas added. “Let’s not forget the deadly water testing fiasco in Walkerton, the bungled effort to privatize our correctional services, degenerating highway maintenance caused by privatization, and scandals at eHealth, in our meat inspection system, at ORNGE and, of course, the usurious penalties caused by the gas plant closures.”
Thomas said it was not the public sector that caused these public policy disasters. It was only after governments over the past 20 years began the process of privatization that serious shortcomings, some criminal, became apparent.
“When former Progressive Conservative Premier Bill Davis built a world-renowned and widely-envied public sector, government work was recognized as a noble and worthy pursuit and a ticket to the middle class,” said Thomas. “Sadly, today’s model rewards greed and dishonesty at the top of the food chain.”
Warren (Smokey) Thoms