Restoration of public ownership a growing trend

“While it’s good to see privatization mistakes being reversed, it would be better if we avoided the mistakes in the first place.” — Larry Brown, NUPGE President

Ottawa (27 Sept. 2016) — A new report from the Columbia Institute looks at how the restoration of public ownership is a growing trend at the municipal level. The report, Back in House: Why local governments are bringing services home, found municipalities are bringing privatization services back under public control to save money and improve quality.

“Any government thinking of privatizing public services should be taking a long, hard look at this report,” said Larry Brown, President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE). “While it’s good to see privatization mistakes being reversed, it would be better if we avoided the mistakes in the first place.”

Cost a main reason to reverse privatization

In 80 per cent of the Canadian examples, reasons for bringing services back in-house were cost and problems with the contractor.

Another concern was that with privatization people lose control over services they rely on. The experience with garbage collection in the city of Port Moody in British Columbia is a clear example. A former Port Moody city manager reported that after privatization, the city lost the ability to fix problems. All the city could do was pass complaints to the private contractor and hope for the best. 

Effects of privatization easy to see with in-sourced services

The Canadian examples mentioned in the report include water and sewage treatment, garbage collection and snowplowing. All of these are services where people can easily see what is happening to both quality and costs.

“With municipal services it’s easier for people to see what privatization looks like up close and they don’t like it,” said Brown. “If people received more information about the impact of privatization at the federal and provincial levels, there would be even more federal and provincial examples of services being restored to the public sector.”

More information: 

Privatization resources

NUPGE

The 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

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