Public Values

'Supercorp' privatization will backfire on McGuinty

OPSEU and SEP join forces to alert voters to dangers of selling off any portion of Ontario's cash cow Crown corporations.

Warren (Smokey) Thomas, president of the Ontario Public Service Employees UnionRod Sheppard, president of the Society of Professional Engineers (SEP) and Warren "Smokey" Thomas, president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE)

Ottawa – 11 June 2010: The Ontario Public Service Employees Union is denouncing a proposal by the McGuinty government to place the province's most lucrative Crown corporations in a single 'Supercorp' and then sell off a 20 percent stake to private investors.

Nothing has been announced officially even though privatization in some form has been under consideration for months by Ontario's Liberal government. However, some details of plans currently under consideration were published on June 4 by the Toronto Globe and Mail.

The four Crown corporations targeted by the government include the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO), Ontario Lottery and Gaming (OLG), Ontario Power Generation (OPG). Together the four taxpayer-owned corporations now earn more than $4 billion a year in pure profit for the province.

"Apparently the Liberals want to put Ontario's four biggest Crown corporations into a shell company. Then they will sell a 20 percent stake in the new 'Supercorp' to private investors," says Warren Thomas, OPSEU's president.

OPSEU has been working with the Society of Energy Professionals (SEP) to oppose privatization since the idea was first floated officially by the government in its last throne speech.

A new commentary on the issue has just been posted on the OPSEU website by Thomas and Rod Sheppard, president of the 8,000-member society.

"Supercorp is a bad idea no matter who came up with it," the two leaders write.

"Selling off all or part of these assets would be short-term gain for long-term pain. The government would get a one-time cash injection but lose the revenue stream from those assets. For good."

"That money pays for schools, hospitals, roads, children's aid, environmental protection the whole gamut of public services. You can count on it: losing that revenue will mean cuts to public services."

Thomas and Sheppard say the motivation behind the privatization scheme is primarily political, a calculated move by the McGuinty government to appeal to right-wing voters when the next Ontario election takes place in October 2011.

The two union leaders say voters must become aware now of the true long-term costs to the province that such a scheme would mean and not be gulled by the idea that even a 20 percent sale is acceptable.

"It isn't – 20 percent of a bad idea is ... a bad idea," they write.

"In any case, history shows that a government that tastes free money soon wants more. If we sell part of our Crown corporations now, it's just a matter of time before this government, or the next, sells them all. That's what happened to Petro-Canada. The Mulroney Conservatives started selling it in 1991. By 2004, the Martin Liberals had sold it all."...

To read the full commentary by Thomas and Sheppard, please go to this page on the OPSEU website.

Links and sources
  OPSEU website

Posted: June 11, 2010

  Public services

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