The List of Nominees

Health care privateer sues for right to bill more

British Columbia

In most high-profile Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms court cases, people are fighting to protect basic human rights that Canadians fought for, and all too often died for.

Then there’s the Charter challenge launched by Brian Day, a doctor who owns a number of private health clinics in BC. Day is claiming the Charter gives him the right to charge patients more than the rates set by British Columbia’s medicare system.

If the challenge succeeds, it could fatally undermine medicare and leave millions of Canadians struggling to afford healthcare, but Day and other health care privateers will be able to make money hand over fist at our expense.

The legal challenge was launched a month before the Medical Services Commission of British Columbia was due to audit Day’s clinics to see if patients and the medicare system were being overcharged.

Day claims he has nothing to hide, but he fought for 2 years to prevent the audit from taking place and then withheld, and even destroyed, some vital information.

In the end, the auditors were able to look at just 100 days’ worth of data from Day’s clinics -- and they found $491,654 in extra billing and $66,734 in double billing!

Still, Day is continuing with his Charter challenge. The legal fees may be adding up, but they’ll be just a drop in the bucket compared to the profits privateers expect -- at our expense -- if extra billing is allowed.

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Higher costs, poorer quality, let’s privatize!

Saskatchewan

Sometimes privatization means higher costs. Sometimes it means poorer services. But with the privatization of food service in correctional facilities, the Saskatchewan Party government and Compass Foods have managed to do both at the same time!

A comparison of the cost of food service in correctional facilities in different provinces showed that public is the way to go. BC’s privatized service cost 38 per cent more than Saskatchewan’s public service, while Alberta’s privatized service cost 60 per cent more.

But that didn’t stop the Saskatchewan Party from deciding to privatize food service in correctional facilities. And who did they give the contract to? Compass Group, the multinational responsible for higher costs in BC and Alberta, and which provided such horrible food at the University of Winnipeg that they were fired!

So let’s recap: 62 Saskatchewan residents lost their jobs so a British multinational could increase its profits. Poor food quality has led to several incidents that put the safety of corrections workers at risk.

As with all dodgy privatization schemes, the Saskatchewan Party is claiming that privatization will save money. But instead of providing evidence, the Saskatchewan Party’s response is trust us. Even after Access to Information requests were filed, the Saskatchewan Party government refused to let the public see the business case for privatizing food service in correctional facilities.

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Montreal P3 hospital takes sewage backups to new heights

Quebec

The privatization industry likes to claim that P3 privatization schemes will cause things to rise to new heights. And at a Montreal P3 hospital that’s true.

In most buildings, if the drains backup, you only have to worry about sewage flooding the basement floor. But in 2015, at the McGill University Health Centre P3 privatization scheme, they managed to have sewage flooding the sixth floor -- in the birthing centre no less!

2015 also saw the preliminary hearing on the bribery charges arising from the bidding process for the contract for the McGill University Health Centre P3 privatization scheme. On trial are the former CEO and two senior executives at SNC-Lavalin, a former administrator at the McGill University Health Centre, and a British consultant on privatization.

One police officer described it as the "largest corruption fraud in Canadian history."

But on the positive side, the corruption scandal has shown that if you’re under investigation for corruption, your friends in the privatization industry won’t desert you. Even after everything that has come to light about the $22.5 million in bribes related to the McGill University Health Centre P3, the Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships has not changed its mind about the gold award for finance it gave the privatization scheme.

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Hydro One sale an early Christmas gift for Bay Street

Ontario

The Ontario Liberals’ sale of Hydro One left Bay Street partying and average Ontarians with the hangover.

It was smiles all round on Bay Street when the provincials Liberals sold off the first chunk of Ontario’s electricity transmission and distribution utility in 2015. The major banks earned $29.3 million underwriting the sale of the utility, which is called Hydro One. Corporate lawyers collected generous fees. Well-connected consultants got $6.8 million in contracts.

What did the Liberals get in return for making the richest Ontarians even richer?

Certainly not a better electricity utility. Based on other electricity utility privatizations -- we’re looking at you, Nova Scotia Power -- this sale is just going to lead to higher rates and job cuts that will lead to more and longer outages.

Worse, the Liberals are giving up hundreds of millions in Hydro One profits that could have been reinvested in hospitals, schools, and transit. As the province’s Financial Accountability Officer reported, the drop in the revenue the province receives each year from Hydro One will be far greater than the one-time cash it will get from privatization.

So what did the Liberals get for this privatization? The gratitude of Bay Street’s wealthiest. In a behind-closed-doors thank-you party last December, Bay Street executives lined up to thank the Ontario Minister of Finance and Minister Energy and to offer up tokens of appreciation. Tokens like $7,500 cheques to the Liberal Party of Ontario. At least $165,000 worth of them.

Average Ontarians might be struggling this coming winter, but they can warm their hearts thinking about the joy and pleasure they’ve given the wealthy and powerful.

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Tax dodging and privatization win-win for KPMG

Nation wide

For KPMG, helping the wealthy dodge taxes and pushing privatization are a big win-win. Success in one area generates lucre in the other.

While best known for accounting, KPMG has diversified into other areas, including advising governments and corporations on privatizing public services.

In 2015, investigative journalists at CBC revealed that wealthy individuals were paying almost no tax, thanks to a sleazy tax haven scheme set up by KPMG. But that’s only half the story.

When KPMG is successful at helping the wealthy dodge taxes, government revenues drop. It becomes harder for governments to fund public services.

And when the privatization industry suggests governments address their revenue shortage by privatizing public services, KPMG gets more contracts!

But what about the facts showing privatization actually costs more? KPMG simply produces some “facts” of its own. The firm’s value-for-money reports can be counted on to show privatization is cheaper -- even for privatization schemes like the Ontario P3s that turned out to cost $8 billion more than staying public, according to the provincial Auditor General.

NUPGE’s privatization playbook made the link between cutting taxes and privatization. Now KPMG is showing that, regardless of what position it’s playing, it’s always offensive.

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Privatizing adult basic education repeats past mistakes

Newfoundland and Labrador

There’s a history of problems with private colleges in Newfoundland and Labrador. In the 1990s, a private college bankruptcy left thousands of students with large debts and no way to complete their training. In 2010, it emerged that 48% of students who attended private colleges in the province were unable to repay their student loans.

So it only makes sense that the Newfoundland and Labrador Conservatives would think that privatizing adult basic education was a good idea. After all, if you keep doing the same thing over and over again, surely things will turn out differently one day?

Well, not this time. Yet again, privatizing college education is costing Newfoundland and Labrador residents more and leaving students high and dry.

Since privatization of adult basic education in 2013, the average cost of tuition has increased by 88%. The number of students has dropped by over 30%.

Even with this latest scandal, the current government isn’t quite ready to try something new. After all, as long as the profits keep piling up for the privatization industry, it doesn’t matter that the biggest lesson students are learning is how it feels to live under crushing debt.

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Federal government “sells” the Canadian Wheat Board for $0

Nation wide

Most privatization schemes provide governments with a one-time cash fix, even if they leave the public worse off in the long term. The federal Conservatives’ privatization of the Canadian Wheat Board couldn’t even manage that.

While the federal Conservatives claimed they were selling the Canadian Wheat Board for $250 million, there was a small detail they glossed over. Instead of paying the $250 million to the Canadian public, the new owners were allowed to pay the money to the company they now owned.

Unless you’re part of the privatization industry, or a government spin doctor, that’s not selling the Canadian Wheat Board. It’s giving it away.

The Conservatives attempted to justify the deal by talking about what getting rid of the Canadian Wheat Board would do for farmers. To farmers would be more accurate. It’s estimated that scrapping the Wheat Board’s monopoly on grain sales cost farmers $6.5 billion in just 2 years.

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Federal government makes Saint John an offer it can’t refuse

New Brunswick

Things looked bad for the plans to use a P3 privatization scheme for the new water treatment plant in Saint John, New Brunswick.

A poll showed 62% of Saint John residents opposed having a private company run their water treatment plant. Only 23% supported privatization of the water system.

But then the community found out what could happen if you reject privatization schemes that enjoy federal government protection. Like most communities, Saint John needed federal and provincial help for a big project like a water treatment plant. And the federal government made using a P3 privatization scheme a condition of federal funding.

Without the federal government P3 protection racket, it’s far from certain whether Saint John would have used a P3 privatization scheme for its new water treatment plant. In 2013 a former commissioner of Saint John Water predicted using a P3 would cost more.

As usual with privatization schemes, key details are being kept secret. With so much financial information kept hidden, it’s very hard to take serious any claim that P3 privatization schemes save money.

Even with the new federal government, the P3 protection racket is still in place. The 2015 announcement that the federal government was removing the P3 privatization scheme requirement for federal funding didn’t apply to PPP Canada, even though it is a federal crown corporation. So $1.25 billion in federal funding controlled by PPP Canada is still being used to pressure communities into using P3 privatization schemes.

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Vote for the Privatization Scam of 2015

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About NUPGE

NUPGE (National Union of Public and General Employees) logoThe National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE.ca