We Own It Weekly: Has grass “roots” activism saved the seed plant?

Seed Plant saved? Community convinces government to put privatization on hold

In a victory for true grass “roots” campaigning, The Ontario Seed Plant has been granted a reprieve.

A small but vital public service located near Barrie, the seed plant’s highly trained staff extract, store, clean, test and distribute billions of tree seeds every year, including 50 species native to our province.

The previous government was scheming to privatize the seed plant. But the local outcry was so loud and strong that the new government is reviewing that decision.

The seed plant is currently operating with a skeleton staff. OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas is urging the government to bring it back up to full strength.

“I’ve already written to the minister to commend him for reviewing the Liberals’ decision to shut down the plant,” said Thomas. “I would urge the minister to recall the full complement of staff to the plant while the review takes place. That way, we can ensure the plant stays fully operational during this time.”

Water rates plummet after community “fires” water privatizers

Water rates have dropped by as much as 65 per cent in the community of Ojai, California, after Golden State Water Company was essentially fired by its customers in a 2013 election vote.

When it was first brought back under public ownership and control, the citizens were shocked by the state of the pipes left by the private owners: “for all the money it got, [the private company] left a water system that was decrepit – in very, very bad shape,” said Russ Baggerly, in the Santa Barbara Independent.

But the problems were quickly fixed and the community is now saving $3 million a year.

Privatized health care causing pain all over Ontario

Two long strikes at family health clinics and an infection scare near Ottawa are just latest symptoms of the “dirty and dangerous gamble” that is privatized health care.

“It’s clear that privatized health care is a dirty and dangerous gamble,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “Are we seriously willing to put the health of our communities in the hands of private business owners?

“Patients and profits don’t mix, and that’s because greed is the most rampant disease eating away at our health care system today,” said Thomas. “It’s the patients that suffer as a result.”

The CEO of the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario echoes Thomas’s concerns. Diane Martin spoke out after learning of a plan by the owners of the Owen Sound Family Health Organization to cut all nursing positions in order to cut costs and increase profits.

“[Patients] deserve access to nursing care,” said Martin in The Owen Sound Sun Times, adding that RPNs have professional standards that include ethics, confidentiality, and therapeutic relationships for which they’re answerable to the College of Nurses of Ontario as well as to their employer.

“Plus the people that you hire to be nurses have education in nursing and non-nurses don’t.”

Visit www.weownit.ca for more information

Every week, OPSEU’s We Own It campaign publishes a newsletter called The We Own It Weekly. It’s a round-up of news and information about the growing movement to protect communities from privatization.

To receive the newsletter directly, you can sign up for it on the We Own It website. You can also keep in touch with the campaign through its Facebook page and Twitter feed.

Related News