Our public services are being privatized

On March 12, the minister responsible for Access Nova Scotia, Mark Furey announced government is discussing the privatization of three registries: the Registry of Joint Stocks; the Land Registry; and the Registry of Motor Vehicles. On July 21, the Minister announced he was continuing to move to the next step in their privatization plans. President Jessome responded: click here to watch one of her interviews. For our message to the members click here.

On March 25, the Finance and Treasury Board Minister Diana Whalen announced the privatization of the Nova Scotia Tourism Agency. Over one hundred employees will be transferred to the new Nova Scotia Tourism Corporation.

Privatization will cost Nova Scotians, who will now be on the hook not only for the service, but for profits on top of the service – and these profits will be secret.  Privatization takes away our ability to find out how a service is being delivered and how much it is costing us. When we ask any questions of these private contracts, we will be denied information, based on private and competitive interests. Contract details will not be made public and not even a FOIPOP will help us much here.

In the press release announcing the formation of the Nova Scotia Tourism Corporation, the CEO Mr. Cowan-Dewar, owner of a premier golf resort in Cape Breton, the Cabot Links, anticipates the newly privatized corporation will double tourism revenues from 2 billion to 4 billion dollars annually. As Mr. Cowan-Dewar was the chairperson of the former public agency we are left to wonder, why did they not double their revenues before? Is there some sort of magical fairy dust that doubles your revenue as soon as you privatize? Or is it just a sleight of hand illusion? A wish upon a star?

Placing Mr. Cowan-Dewar at the head of the Corporation illustrates the problem with a completely privatized tourist industry. Mr. Cowan-Dewar owns a golf resort and has a direct interest in the outcomes of the corporation. Is this not a conflict of interest? If not, are there other companies involved in the Corporation who are standing by waiting to run privatized services previously offered by the government?

There is no evidence that privatization improves service or makes things more affordable.

On budget day, to help realign our public services for privatization, our provincial government announced the creation of a new Department of Business which is completely staffed with excluded or non-union positions and whose mandate it is to create a business-friendly environment. This follows the pre-budget announcement of the privatization of the Nova Scotia Tourism Agency and their intention to soon privatize three registries in Service Nova Scotia.

In fact, the government has already met with four firms who pitched the government on administering property and operating motor vehicle and business registry services. They include Information Services Corporation from Saskatchewan, a British company called Serco Group, and Teranet, a company that operates in Manitoba and Ontario. None are Nova Scotian and all stand to make a substantial profit from operating our public service. If government revenue is important, which is clearly is, why would we sell of a service that is profitable?

When public jobs are turned into private jobs, they become low wage, insecure jobs where the primary motivation is not to provide the best public service but to extract the largest amount of profits.

We need to defend our Canadian values; our strong public services; government accountability and transparency.

ACT NOW!

Please do as many or all of the things below to raise your voice to protect and defend public services and the benefits we have negotiated over the years.

ToolBox:

  • Write to the Premier and your MLA
  • Write a “Letter to the Editor”; (include: Tips for writing letters to the editor); share stories about the important work you do with the public and on Facebook.
  • Talk to your fellow Civil Service members. Tell them what they stand to lose. (include: Handout cards to members
  • Lobby your local business person or service provider to contact the Premier or their MLA. (include: template letter for businesses and link to NSGEU to order handout cards)
  • Talk to the public and your friends outside of work. Tell them about our “Cuts to Public Services will make Nova Scotia Worse” Campaign – (include: Links to print and radio ads and link to NSGEU to order handout cards)
  • Change your Facebook profile photo to support our campaign until after budget day and tweet.