Cuts, privatization of Ottawa's public services will come at high cost - CUPE

    OTTAWA, Oct. 30 /CNW Telbec/ - Ottawa City Council's cuts, contracting
out and privatization of public services will come at a high cost to the
quality of life in the nation's capital if not stopped, say leaders of the
Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). The warning comes as Ottawa Council
unveils a proposed budget that will likely call for more deep cuts to public
services and jobs than already made previously.
    "Libraries have been on the chopping block, wait lists for child care
spaces are growing, recreation programs are threatened, there are unsafe
living conditions in community housing and there's a growing shortage of
paramedics, making it difficult to keep up with medical emergencies," said
CUPE 503 President Brian Madden. "This is not the kind of Ottawa that
residents want."
    CUPE Ontario Secretary-Treasurer Fred Hahn added that shedding more
public services, or contracting them out to for-profit operators, is not the
way to go especially given the economic downturn. "This is when people are
most in need of efficient public services, when they've lost their jobs and
need retraining, when they are stretched to the limit and need support to
raise their families."
    He pointed out that Ottawa City Council has turned over services to the
private sector with disastrous results. "Residents' tax dollars are bailing
out the Bell Sensplex Arena and providing it with sweetheart deals so the
private sector can run it. And what about the Ray Friel Centre which the city
had to take over from a private operator. Council would have more money to
fund appropriate levels of public services if it stopped these expensive
privatization deals."
    CUPE National President Paul Moist said that across Canada, community
services are in danger of being contracted out to private corporations who are
putting profit before the best interests of Canadians.
    "It's been proven in communities across the country that privatization of
services and infrastructure costs taxpayers more and delivers less."
    Moist added that the Harper government's federal infrastructure program
is the wrong program at the wrong time in Canada. "Building Canada will only
fund municipal infrastructure projects of $50 million or more if local
governments "fully consider" public-private partnerships. By underfunding
infrastructure and tying funding to P3s, the Harper government is essentially
forcing privatization on Canadian cities."
    On Saturday, November 1, CUPE will host a free concert featuring Trooper,
The Cooper Brothers and Bowser and Blue at the Ottawa Civic Centre. Called
Rock for Public Services, the concert is meant to celebrate and bring home the
importance of public services in building and strengthening communities."

For further information:

For further information: For interviews with Paul Moist: contact Allison
Gifford, CUPE Communications, (613) 484-2571; Fred Hahn, CUPE Ontario,
Secretary-Treasurer, (416) 540-3979; Brian Madden, President, CUPE 503, (613)
292-9671; Valerie Dugale, CUPE Communications, (647) 225-3685

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Canadian Union of Public Employees - Ontario Regional Office

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