Public Values

Saskatchewan gov't quietly privatizing services despite election promises

IT work to be outsourced to the private sector, public park buildings sold.

Greenwater Park rental cabins sold to private businessDespite election promises that it would not engage in a privatization agenda, the government of Saskatchewan has embarked on a series of agreements that does just that, according to the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees' Union (SGEU). The latest are the meetings held last week with the Information Technology Office minister June Draude and private business with an eye to privatize information technology (IT) services within the provincial government.

"Paying business more to do the same work that has traditionally been done in-house by government workers is obviously not cost effective. In the first place, the contract employees are often paid significantly more than government workers, and then business owners take a substantial profit off the top. The bottom line is that it costs taxpayers more," said Bob Bymoen, president of SGEU.

  "The government should be strengthening our internal capacity, not putting us at the mercy of business interests who have no real commitment to our province or its people."

There are concerns about a 'brain drain' from the province, as well as losing specialized knowledge and skills in the IT area, as more work gets contracted out. We may well see this work leaving not only our province, but our country in future, Bymoen said.

"It's in our best interests as a province to keep IT capacity within our own government. We don't want to see our money, or the technological capabilities in this area leave the province," he added.

Also announced this week is the sale of 23 rental cabins at Greenwater Lake Provincial Park. "Again, the people of Saskatchewan lose out, because private business owners need to either charge more or erode the quality of services in order to make a profit," according to Bymoen.

The union is disappointed at the lack of openness and transparency, what the actual eventual costs to taxpayers will be, and whether profits and skilled labour will stay in the province.

"The government should be strengthening our internal capacity, not putting us at the mercy of business interests who have no real commitment to our province or its people," Bymoen said.

Saskatchewan Government and General Employees' Union (SGEU) has over 22,000 members and is Saskatchewan's largest union with over 70 different collective agreements.

Links and sources
  Saskatchewan Government and General Employees' Union (SGEU) website

Posted: February 19, 2010

Categories:
  Public services
  Front lines
  Voices of privatization

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